Jonathan Fraser: why advertisers need local power on a global scale

The world has seven continents, 197 countries and countless cultures, subcultures and tribes. It would appear to be an impossible task to create one campaign that resonates globally – but that isn’t true.

How is this achieved, I hear you ask? You must rip up the rule book, unlearn everything you think you know.

Start global – but act local
Being global does still matter: it might be a local campaign but the world is still global, after all.

There used to be a time where brands would create one campaign for the UK, a different one for New York, and never the twain would meet. That stopped being true a long time ago. All great campaigns are global whether you like it or not – so you might as well lean into this. Don’t try to fight it, embrace it.

For instance, Champion was a brand which stood for different things in different markets. Consistency was needed but so too was flexibility to allow people to interpret the message for their location. For its centenary campaign, the brand played on how it has always focused on team culture, re-establishing itself “For the Team” globally, yet landing differently in each market. Some executions majored on female team biking, other team hula-hoopers, but they all laddered back to that famous strapline.


Crucially, you shouldn’t over-explain the message. Allow people to take what they see and make it relevant to themselves. It’s good to leave gaps for people to fill with their own narrative; providing a chance for consumer involvement is always useful. As long as the overall message is strong enough to create consistency and insightful enough to spark local interpretation, the campaign will deliver.

Local power built on common language

The world isn’t going to stop being global any time soon, so we need to embrace that thought in campaign strategy – but also consider how to land the message in local markets.

Identifying the local nuances of human insight that trigger emotional responses that lead to a sale is a key challenge for brands. When you manage to uncover what makes your target audience tick, the next challenge is applying the insight globally without watering down the campaign.

That relies on ambition; a desire to avoid being generic, instead creating work that perfectly lands the right message in each market.

There are challenges to making this work; the most important one is to avoid leading with bland insights. Stay away from being cliché. Be brave, make trouble and break from the norm you’ve been taught.

Begin with research. Find insights that translate into local culture.

Everyone wants to make the most of their time on earth but how that resonates is unique to each person. By using far-reaching insights first then testing them locally, there is the opportunity to make sure they have personal resonance. Ask yourself, does the language or the creative really mean something in Romania as well as in China?

Adjusting to a global mindset with a local strategy may be out of our comfort zone but push yourself to try something new. Focus on one campaign, one creative, one strategy and one media plan. And make sure it resonates in all corners of the globe.

Jonathan Fraser is co-founder and chief strategy officer at Trouble Maker.

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