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Why it's important to acting ‘Glocally'

By Poppy Mason-Watts

Way To Blue


The Drum Network article

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December 3, 2019 | 6 min read

I’m sure everyone in the creative industry has heard the ever-repeated adage ‘big ideas are dead’.

Big Idea

Way To Blue on why Amsterdam is the home for big new ideas. / Simon Abrams via Unsplash

I completely disagree. The global Big Idea is still very much alive, but cultural nuance and localisation need to be considered by any brand team. This is especially relevant when working on a multi-territory European account, as many creative campaigns we see are now led out of the creative and strategic brand hub that is Amsterdam.

Why, then, is the Big Idea so important? Essentially it’s because it excites, engages, and inspires not just everyone involved but the ultimate audience of the consumer. Yes, it must of course work on multiple levels, impressing and engaging existing and new consumers - feeding loyalty and trust - and we know that this then inspires a workforce of hungry creatives too. The Big Idea underpins the creative strategy and communications plan; it’s a platform for storytelling, and we only believe in storytelling that matters. It’s also vital to the culture of an agency, studio, or creative house and surely, with the ever-increasing plethora of media channels, the creative cut-through enabled by that Big Idea is as critical as ever.

Customisation is key

The high quality and, dare I say it, integrated marketing teams who develop the idea should excel in delivering strong creative campaigns which are rooted in insights that inform the strategy - but what happens when the time comes to deliver the campaign plan Europe-wide?

It can get ugly.

The real challenge comes when trying to replicate the singular vision across multiple regions. A one-size-fits-all creative just doesn’t cut it. Our advice to brands here? Customise your campaign to each market; think global but act local.

Netflix, A‌i‌r‌b‌n‌b‌, Johnny Walker, and Uniqlo are examples of brands doing this well. From localised social pages and language programming to local language interfaces and robust city guidebooks, these brands have created tailored campaigns to drive brand recognition.

Of course we know that localising creative can be difficult. Multi-market European creative campaigns usually originate in the brand’s hometown, but these brand headquarters face many challenges.

Think global from the get-go

Aside from the usual communication issues, such as timezones, translation barriers and cultural nuance, the local brand teams often don’t understand the deep creative thinking from the home market. They can’t possibly understand the local consumer, and there can be huge difficulties balancing regional perspectives as a result. Throw in budget black holes and the challenge to translate creative to local markets, and brands are faced with a real conundrum.

We see this regularly and recommend that brands think globally from the get-go. The brand team should aim to involve local markets at the early stages, ensure the ‘glocal’ approach is driven from HQ and spend time nailing how to deliver the campaign. It’s just as important as that initial spark of creativity.

Allow creativity to thrive

We are well-versed on the ‘glocal’ approach. With offices across Europe and an established EMEA HQ in Amsterdam, we partner with a number of brands to offer localised and strategically-led creative, multi-platform creative communications campaigns to brands headquartered in the Netherlands and beyond.

Indeed, our work for the opening of Kimpton de Witt is a perfect example of thriving creativity localised for a Dutch audience. We were briefed to launch the premium US hotel brand Kimpton into Europe starting with a first opening in Amsterdam. We developed an integrated campaign rooted in creativity relevant to the local city-dwellers, delivered through key activities including florally vandalising the hundreds of bikes on the streets of the iconic city, partnering with Humans of Amsterdam and the glamourous launch event, which attracted international media, driving high profile media relations and social media throughout.

The campaign saw a social reach of nearly three million individuals within the first few months of launch and average Facebook engagement rate of 4.13%. The main message with which we could reassure the US brand marketing team throughout the campaign was that we understood how to translate their values into a different market and make it work.

Expect the unexpected

In an unplanned campaign pre-launch, we also commissioned a local artist called Hyshil to deliver an overnight botanical-themed installation across the hotel’s 77m plain hoarding built to hide construction. This spontaneous creative idea generated significant buzz three months before the hotel even opened and gained over 10,000 Instagram followers by launch. It was a marriage of strong creative thinking and smart communications planning.

We went on to launch Kimpton de Witt in London, which again needed a new set of creative communication rules and another (phenomenal) Big Idea.

So, what we know and understand is that there can be so much struggle internally, existing structures can make thinking glocal a real challenge for marketers. Given our experience, we understand that a simple approach that handles all stakeholders early on is best.

With our two decades of heritage and experience in truly global creative campaigns in entertainment and lifestyle marketing, executed in more than 30 markets, we’re here to arm brands with that expertise, especially in multi-market execution. We believe the best agencies provide a proven approach to localising creative campaigns. Simply, our global boutique offering provides a simple insight-driven framework and strategic approach to the complex nature of multi-market work. It makes life easier.

Having worked in Singapore and Hong Kong over the last decade, there is no better place to be working in our industry than Amsterdam. I am looking forward to seeing what world-leading creative is developed in 2020 from this thriving hub.

Poppy Mason-Watts, European business director, Way To Blue.


Content by The Drum Network member:

Way To Blue

We are Way To Blue, an award-winning global integrated communications agency working with consumer, lifestyle and entertainment brands.

We develop digital-led,...

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