The GMC launch: global marketing on trial at Ennismore

A tribe of global marketers came together at Ennismore Sessions House on the morning of July 3rd, 2019. Quite a different demographic compared to the crowds of prisoners ushered up the majestic stairway back in Victorian London. Ennismore was then a courthouse, where people were judged before being shipped to Australia – or worse, sentenced to death.

Our global marketers had not committed any crime or felony – unless you consider having a passion for global marketing as a criminal offence. In this unique venue, filled with a rather sombre history, the atmosphere was cheerful as all gathered for the launch of The Global Marketers’ Club to explore the intricacies that come with marketing on a global scale and to meet like-minded global thinkers.

Charles Dickens is still relevant today

After a tasty breakfast, over which everyone seemed to mingle and network enthusiastically, the time came for our CEO, Kevin Freedman, to deliver his opening speech. With a nod to Charles Dickens who described the Ennismore courthouse in Oliver Twist, Kevin opened up the debate:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…”

While Dickens was referring to the late 18th century in A Tale of Two Cities, the quote could very much describe the state of global marketing today. Marketing has never been this global and hyper-connected, and yet with globalisation comes a new set of challenges which we discussed throughout the morning with our exceptional line-up of speakers.

The first panel discussion focused on the evolution of media channels globally and on how the media landscape can differ from one market to the other. Three talented panellists shared their views on the state of global media. The panel was vigorous and at times quite controversial, with predictions on upcoming media trends and insights into the differences that exist in media behaviour across markets. For Suzanne Perry, Executive Director at OMD, smart cities are the biggest trend to look out for, predicting that a Minority Report reality is just around the corner, and media owners are effectively turning into media builders creating opportunities for brands to become permanent fixtures, on a long-term holding, much more ingrained in the city.

Briain Curtin, Marketing Director Brand & Media at Fitbit boldly claimed that the word “digital” should be removed from the vernacular altogether, considering that we’ve now moved completely to a digital world so the distinction between offline and online is no longer relevant: “TV, OOH – it’s all digital now.”

Laila Sulaiman, Global Business Director at Freedman pondered on whether the use of media was too targeted, which ironically can lead to being targeted by ads that are not relevant.

Global vs. Local: the eternal conundrum

Our second panel of experts shared some tips and heartfelt experience on how to navigate relationships between global and local marketing teams and gear up for global campaigns.

Ruth Collet, who leads international campaign implementation at Oracle, shared some soundbites on Oracle’s successful journey from a locally driven marketing approach, to a more unified and centralised marketing model. She also emphasised how important it is for global and local teams to work in collaboration, while agreeing clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

Simon Francis, CEO at Flock, shared his acronym for campaign success (a rather clunky one, in his own words) –PROCTD which stands for People, Resources, Organisation, Costs, Technology and Data. The most important of these terms from an activation and implementation perspective is Organisation, which basically boils down to getting your processes right. Simon also shared his views on an optimal model which would combine hyper-localisation (i.e. marketing that’s deeply rooted in market reality) with global efficiency.

Marie Bonin, Account Director at Freedman, urged marketers to think implementation first, rather than as an after-thought. In her experience, a lack of consideration for implementation and processes too often leads to campaign failures.

Culture vs. Creativity: where to draw the line

Our last panel was perhaps the most animated, as it tackled challenging markets and questioned whether creativity is limited in a global marketing context. Our panellists were quite diverse, which made for a passionate debate. Joe Edwards, Head of Digital Marketing at FIBA Media shared his experience of working on the current FIBA campaign for the next basketball world cup in China, which happens to be the trickiest market from his perspective. The media landscape and culture in China is so different that FIBA are actually running a different campaign for China than they are for other markets.

Harry Shaw, Creative Director at Grey explained how it’s important for creatives to have access to local insights so they can decide whether to create a campaign specifically for a region or run a global campaign focusing on universal truths. As an example, he took a Guinness campaign he worked on, specifically created for Africa – based on insights that found that the local population attributes aphrodisiac properties to Guinness. A different creative approach to the one he takes on Sensodyne campaigns, where the emphasis is on the universal truth that is the need for pain relief and oral hygiene. Harry also emphasised how paramount it is to hire the right people to work on global campaigns; people with the right experience, and most importantly the right open mindset.

Nara Cravanzola, Head of CAT at Freedman shared her views on what makes some global campaigns successful, while others fail. She started off with the 2017 Kendall Jenner Pepsi advert, to illustrate what brands should avoid at all costs. In this advert, Kendall Jenner joins a crowd of demonstrators and attempts to spread world peace by handing out cans of Pepsi. With this campaign Pepsi tried to jump on the Black Lives Matter bandwagon, with no connection to their brand. Besides, Kendall Jenner is not known for her political or social activism – so naturally, Pepsi experienced tremendous backlash.

Nara then referred to Nike’s 2018 Just Do It campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, the American Football player who knelt during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. This Nike campaign is an example of a successful controversial campaign, as Kaepernick has become a great ambassador for Nike’s long-term commitment to promoting racial justice. There’s a very fine line between campaign failure and success, especially in the current socio-political climate and with the prevalence of social media.

The verdict

What a great launch event for the Global Marketers’ Club! We all learned from each other’s experience and dared to speak up about the challenges we face daily when marketing on a global or international scale. It also gave us a taste for the exciting events to come – networking and educational ones.

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