Brand Experience Report: Global campaigns

As part of Event's annual Brand Experience Report, Brea Carter took a look at the rise of internationally integrated campaigns.

The world is becoming smaller due to online amplification
The world is becoming smaller due to online amplification

There is no doubt that we live in a more connected world than ever, and it seems brands are increasingly looking to deliver one campaign across multiple markets in response.   

"Brand experiences and the content they deliver can sit very comfortably at the heart of through-the-line campaigns now. There has been an increase in development of global experiential platforms, and of campaigns that drive consistency and scale at a global level," says Paul Saville, SVP joint head of experience at Wasserman.

"This trend is set to continue as the use of brand experiences across the globe is becoming more common place and valuable. It’s not just advanced markets delivering great work."

Phil Carter, board director at Iris Culture agrees, and says that the agency’s clients are increasingly seeking campaigns that can be consumed by audiences across the globe.

"The drive for this has been motivated by the desire for consistency and quality in the execution of work all across markets. Clients are increasingly aware of the benefit gained from creative and activation plans being delivered in sync, as opposed to local markets attempting large-scale projects individually."

The proof is in the pudding at TRO, with Michael Wryley Birch, the agency’s chief operating officer stating requests for campaigns that transcend national boarders rose considerably last year.    

"We can see that clients are adapting their organisational structures to be faster, more efficient and flexible to meet ever-evolving consumer needs.

"More than 50% of our new business briefs in 2015 required us to work in more than one country – and we certainly feel this is a trend that is set to continue and no doubt increase into 2016 and beyond," he explains.

What’s driving the trend?

Sarah Yeats, client services director at Sledge notes that changing habits and new ways of budgeting are key factors to consider. "Businesses are now spread across the world and peoples lifestyles are so varied and no longer the typical 9am to 5pm.

"I also feel it suits businesses to manage their budgets – by spreading costs across costs centres and teams they are able to achieve the bigger campaigns needed," she explains.

Jonathan Emmins, founder at Amplify says the practice reflects brands’ desire to relay one unique persona. "The need for brands to remain constant is driven by the desire to build a clearly defined global identity, knowing that their audiences will be accessing them on multiple platforms across different geographies," he explains. 

Nick Adams, managing director at Sense believes technological developments are fuelling brands’ decision to go global. "Some brands who may not have previously thought about globally integrated campaigns may well do now. The world is getting smaller, social media and amplification techniques are making a global reach more possible," he says.

While Aimee Okafor, director at Closer attributes the trend to the rise of digital, which she believes sees "the levels of attention we command inevitably diminished".

She continues: "As a consequence, clients need to land their key brand assets and messaging more widely, and with greater simplicity, in order to ensure retention. Global activation is seen as an effective way to achieve this, while also maximising economies of scale, versus current ROI models."

Camilla Felstead, business strategy director at GMR Marketing agrees that the virtual realm is driving this new approach. "Thanks to the rise of digital and social media, consumers are no longer confined by geographic boundaries, meaning brands need to provide consistency across the board.

"Too often companies focus on the channels available and the strategy for each rather than considering how all of the tools can be used to reach the goals of the overall campaign," she adds.

Managing cultural differences

Emma Ede, managing director at ID believes that its essential brands operate globally, yet important that cultural differences are accounted for.

"We live in the era of social sharing, so it’s important for brands to have a clear global strategy to deliver consistent communications. However, it’s also important that brands adapt their global strategies to comply with local marketing demands and ensure their marketing clearly resonates across different target audiences - think global, act local," she explains.

Jane Baker, commercial director at 2Heads explains that its important brands relay the same message, however agrees with Ede that the relevant changes must be made in respect to local audiences.

"We have worked with clients who want to ensure consistent messaging around how their brand is presented. They need to make sure the customer journey is the same in different locations, however a local focus should be born in mind.

"There needs to be tactical changes in terms of delivery style; the message needs to resonate with local audiences," she adds.  

Emmins explains that brands may struggle if they choose to ignore the idiosyncrasies of the nations in which they execute the same campaign.

"In principle this is good practice [one global identity] and should mean that brands and campaigns are clearly identifiable wherever the audience comes across them, but the problem arises when global cohesion is executed at the expense of local nuance. Brands must fight to remain locally relevant and many campaigns will not easily translate across cultures."

Okafor says global campaigns need that personal, cultural touch. "Our research supports the need for a mix of active storytelling and takeaway brand messaging. The challenge with all experience, though, is saliency.

"If something is too obviously being delivered ‘from above’ as part of a global activation – if people feel it was not invented for them and their own environment – then engagement levels with audiences are likely to be challenged."

Felstead agrees, stating: "Authenticity is key to the modern day consumer which means brands need to consider their communication strategy across all channels to ensure there is consistent messaging."

Making it work with more than one team 

Yeats explains that miscommunications can rise when more than one team is involved in the execution of a campaign.

"The difficulty arises when a business struggles to align the teams and messaging, as this can lead to loosing traction and focus which can lead to a lot of money being spent on time but little on the actual activation."

Baker agrees, and says geographical and cultural differences can also play a part. "Global reach is a great thing, but you need to have huge teams and co-ordinating those teams is tricky. There are different times zones and languages to consider, and it requires time to get everyone on the same page."

Opportunities in Rio

Sharon Richey, CEO at Because believes the Games will prove lucrative mostly for sponsor brands.   

"It’s often seen that big events such as the Olympics offer a big opportunity. However sponsorship is still so tightly controlled, there are many restrictions.

"To do guerilla activity would leave a brand very exposed, so unless the brand is a headline sponsor, or a guerilla brand happy to deal with the consequences, I don’t see it as a huge opportunity," she explains.

Saville agrees that the event’s 35 plus sponsor brands will benefit most. "Capitalising if you are not a sponsor is tough due to global restrictions," he says.

"Brands that are successful at connecting with consumers will be those that bring fans closer to events, who are not in Rio. This could be in the form of fan parks or live screenings, or offering added value to the viewing experience through the second screen, or behind the scenes content."

Adams adds: "I think there is an opportunity for activity around Rio, but this is always restricted by rules and regulations." 

However Baker believes there is room for non-sponsor brands, to a certain degree. "It depends on who is sponsoring the Games and what brands can do off the back of things. I like the way Paddy Power does some of its marketing around events without breaking any laws or regulations.

"Brands can be part of something without having to make large investment in an event’s main sponsorship," she explains. 

Comment below to let us know what you think.

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