International advertising is dead, long live international advertising

January 28, 2019

Once upon a time, international advertising could fairly be accused of being unexciting, needing to appeal to a broad target market and so lacking the great ideas that local campaigns were able to implement given a better understanding of the humour or nuance of local audiences.  Some of us are old enough to remember those awful TV ads where you could instantly tell it was an international campaign by the bad dubbing and bland creative, and few truly global campaigns would be lauded at Cannes.  Digital, of course, has changed this – making it ever easier to think global but tweak for local, and enabling international advertisers to target audiences more precisely on an international scale.  The World Media Awards have been set up to recognise the growing creativity and innovation in international advertising, particularly those campaigns which engage with audiences with a content-led idea.  Given that our independent jury represents a broad range of expertise in international communications strategy, we’ve been asking them about the new “global / local” approaches and how you make them work.


What do we mean by “personalisation” in international advertising?

Our jurors are excited by the  notion of personalisation – of taking an idea and adapting it across different markets so that it is still recognisable as the same campaign despite the regional variations. Brodie Reid, Global Brand and Content Manager at Tourism New Zealand, says that their international campaigns “take a global view of the macro trends happening in the industry and then apply a local lens to tap into what’s relevant and specific for that market”. Annie Granatstein, Head of WP BrandStudio at Washington Post, supported this idea, explaining that a successful and profitable marketing campaign may involve the creation of multiple versions of the content, “not just translations, but accounting for differences in cultures and interest.”


Is there such a thing as an “international” audience?

Richard Stokes, Global Head of Content at Wavemaker questions the notion of an “international“ audience, before suggesting that “we should apply all that we know of an audience group and ensure we personalise content to the greatest extent possible”. Iain Jacob, Director, Advisor and Investor,concurred, explaining that “nobody is ‘international’ or ‘domestic’ in today’s world. This is about targeting a mindset – and it is context that delivers mindset.”


Is it all about the data?

Raquel Bubar, Director of T BrandStudio at The New York Times said that “the more we can tap into performance metrics, the more we can predict which types of content will work well with different audiences in different regions around the world.” However, whilst data is increasingly essential to the success of a campaign, including the local expertise is still a crucial component. Caroline Foster-Kenny, CEO of the EMEA region at IPG Mediabrands, stated that “trusting in the knowledge of local teams is key to the development of any successful campaign running across multiple territories” whilst Thibaut Portal, Global Media Hub Leader at Pernod Ricard, explained that “head office enables you to consolidate and bring coherency across many activated markets [whilst] local is fine-tuning and adapting strategies.”


Great international advertising needs a great idea

Gordana Buccisano, Head of Business Strategy and Commercial Planning at Publicis, said “at the core of a campaign, you need to have a killer insight that forms the basis for the killer idea on which the campaign is built upon. If both are in sync (insight and idea), then the job of balancing global with local becomes much easier to implement.”


An international content-driven marketing strategy must find the right balance between using metrics and local insight to personalise the campaign without losing sight of the human truth that the strategy taps into. It’s a fine line to walk, and the successful culmination of this tight-rope act is a feat worth of celebration.   We have a library of some of the most successful international content-led campaigns at [link to hall fo fame]


Enter now!

We would love to see how you are tackling these challenges – enter the World Media Awards by 7 February 2019.  There’s not cost to enter – we’re simply looking for the best campaigns that have strategically targeted at least 3 countries.