Global implementation: the right message, all around the world

From conducting creative and cultural consultations to managing the production of assets and getting them out to market fast, we’ve helped hundreds of brands with their global marketing campaigns

Speaking at The Indie Summit – the independent agencies global leadership summit – our founder Kevin Freedman said that now is a great time to be an independent agency. Why? Because they have the agility that is needed today, the capability to attract the best talent and the opportunity to deliver campaign media across multiple countries.

Among other things, the latter is something we have built our reputation around and it’s our ability to understand and interpret global marketing campaigns for a local audience – wherever they might be in the world – that has secured our success as an implementation agency.

So what is global implementation, and how can we help brands and other agencies ensure their marketing messages have an impact on an international scale?

Why is global implementation so important?

When brands come up with a great idea, it’s natural that they want to share it with as many potential customers as possible. But it’s not simply about translating your tagline. Ensuring a global campaign resonates around the world means taking a custom approach to the local markets where their assets will appear.

Failing to take different markets into account can dramatically damage a campaign’s success. Kevin cites Fitbit, the San Francisco-based fitness tracking and wearables company, as an example of what can go wrong when brands and agencies fail to properly address the demands of localisation.

“When Fitbit created their first TV commercial it featured a whole load of exercise and fitness things that people in North America liked to do, baseball, American football, running in the street up and down these winding roads,” he says.

This might be understandable, when you consider that the agencies they worked with on the advert where predominantly based in San Francisco, but when they tried to export the advert around the world it quickly became apparent that half of these sporting activities weren’t relevant and the people living in many of the local markets they wanted to target simply couldn’t identify with the lifestyle being that was being presented to them.

Freedman were called upon to get involved, and we carried out a creative and cultural consultation, as we always do before embarking on any translation or transcription project. “What we discovered was that, actually, in North America they’re very competitive with their fitness,” says Kevin. “But, when it comes to France, people want to be fit and enjoy a great lifestyle, when it comes to Italy they want it to look good, and when it comes to Germany they want to measure everything and track it all. Therefore, you need to create commercials and content that actually can hook into each of those different types of behaviours.”

Beyond the risk of failing to speak to the target audience, the consultation also revealed issues with the global advert that could have had legal implications for Fitbit. “Interesting fact, in France you can’t show people running in the street,” says Kevin. “And you can’t show an iPhone by the bedside of a child, which is what they tried to do.” And so our team of transcreation specialists spent time working with the brand – advising them on how to get their creative passed the relevant local market clearance bodies.

What are the key considerations of a global implementation plan?

Kevin believes that independent agencies are the natural home for global brands, and that’s because of their approach to implementation. At Freedman, a creative and cultural consultation always precedes any production – so before brands get carried away with a big idea, we find out whether it’s going to work in their key markets.

For example, if they are not clear on what marketing content is needed by different markets, it’s possible they will waste resources on generating content that is not appropriate. Similarly, if they don’t understand each local market well, they might lose out on the similarities between them and end up with multiple markets generating similar materials, taking up time and budget unnecessarily.

Thanks to our community of 100s of transcreation specialists, copywriters in 80+ markets, and network of seven global production studios, Freedman is perfectly placed to deliver global messages to local audiences. As we said before, a huge part of this success rests on looking beyond a brand’s translation requirements and focusing on transcreation – a process where copy is not only translated but also localised by taking into account cultural, political and social issues, as well as what might be considered funny or offensive in that region. This means that every word and every sentence has to be interrogated by in-market, local language specialists – a metaphor, idiom or alliterative sentence might work in one part of the world, but it might miss the mark in another.

It’s not just words, images also need to be taken into account as well as sound in cases where a brand’s visuals are accompanied by a voice over. Armed with this local understanding, the process of creating, testing, approving and validating campaign assets is streamlined – ensuring the right message is received all around the world.

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