6 fixable reasons why global marketing campaigns go pear-shaped

Marketers love to deliver brilliant creative campaigns and set the strategy in motion, but what happens when the time comes to deliver the strategy globally?

Global marketing campaigns typically originate in the home market, where the lead agency and central team are based. In the beginning, the main focus is on the big idea and campaign strategy. The first stage of the process is a melting pot of creative thinking, from a group of talented creatives who have knowledge of the product and personal experience of the home culture.

The next step is where things can start to go awry, as the campaign originated in one market sets to conquer other territories, relying at best on a network of local marketers, at worst on assumptions and chance.

So how can you stay in control and deliver a consistent global marketing campaign that resonates across all markets — on time and to budget?

Here’s a round-up of where global marketing campaigns can go pear-shaped, and what you can do to ensure yours stays on track:

1. The creative ideas won’t translate

Global creative ideas are often tricky to localise. From sign offs and taglines to imagery and concepts that offend rather than resonate, the whole process can be a minefield to the unwary.

It’s easy to see how failing to consider the global implications of any visuals you’re creating can lead to trouble, but creative concepts can crash in many other ways too. For example, sound matters. Projects flounder when markets react poorly to the voice-over you’ve chosen — whether it’s because it’s insensitive to cultural needs, or it just won’t work in the market. Other creative minefields include humour, metaphors, idioms, regulatory issues, and cultural norms.

To avoid your creative idea falling flat, research local markets in detail by using your teams on the ground or finding the local experts you need. Don’t create in a vacuum — make sure whatever you’re creating will make the right impact when it lands.

2. Lack of communication

Aside from the normal communication challenges, such as varying time zones, multiple languages, and cultural differences, local teams don’t share a deep understanding of the home market’s culture. It’s not unusual for great ideas to become incomprehensible once they cross cultural or language divides; this lack of understanding doesn’t give local teams any impetus to embrace the project. It’s fair to say that sometimes your ideas — no matter how great you think they are — won’t work in some markets.

It’s not unusual for there to be a lack of communication with local markets during this initial stage. Sometimes you’ll find a global team working in silos with lead agencies, ‘secretively’ working on big ideas, while some markets won’t have even been considered. You need to work together with local markets, right from the start, involving as many relevant people in the process as possible.

Early market collaboration on the brief surrounding creative needs, timing issues, and resources will pay dividends. Having a firm understanding of creative localisation implications such as images, product shots, talent, and cultural norms is a sure-fire way to save you time and money further down the line.

3. Whose project is it anyway?

Project management is a huge issue during global marketing campaigns, and uncertainty over processes can hamper your efforts even further. Who owns the project? Who holds the budget? Who reports to whom? Who’s even in charge here?

There is so much to coordinate, from agencies and people, to status reports and assets — and very often a lack of resources to make it happen. At the heart of all this, local marketers are typically unclear on where to go for help, asking ‘Who do I contact to sort this out?’ Sound familiar?

The bottom line is this: make sure you’ve got the right people onboard and that everyone is clear on their responsibilities. Establish clear roles for global, regional, and local teams, and ensure everyone understands how they fit into the bigger picture. Define a worldwide localisation process, implement one consistent (yet flexible) process worldwide, and educate teams on transcreation and adaptation to increase your chances of success.

4. Lack of understanding of cultural differences

If you’re not all on the same page, it’s impossible to tell the same story. Basic considerations, including communication around schedules often get lost between the central team and the local markets. If you don’t know the launch schedule, it’s going to be extremely difficult to plan your media schedules.

If you’re not crystal clear on what marketing content is needed for different markets, you risk wasting resources on generating content that’s not necessarily appropriate. And if you don’t understand your local markets well, you’ll lose out on the synergies between markets, too. This could result in multiple markets generating their own, similar materials, with all the unnecessary costs that involves. Or worse — they’ll all create campaigns that differ strategically and creatively, damaging global brand equity.

Generating a global toolkit is a great idea, but these are often delivered too late in a schedule. If your global toolkit isn’t ready on time, local markets won’t be able to fully utilise your global assets. With deadlines looming, they may be forced to develop their own marketing materials in conjunction with the global toolkit, duplicating efforts and wasting your budget.

Creating your global toolkit in collaboration with local markets and distributing it ahead of schedule will ensure your time and budget can be utilised effectively.

5. Budget confusion

Where does the budget sit? The answer to this simple question holds the key to understanding where many global projects run into difficulty.

If the budget is wholly owned by the global team, there’s a danger that local markets get side-lined in the creative process because the global team doesn’t consult on local needs or creative input.

If the budget is split between global (for strategy and creative) and local teams for adaptation and media, the onus is on the global team to provide materials that will work and meet the needs of local markets. However, this split frequently backfires, and local markets often discard global tools to recreate their own, driving up project costs.

If the budget is all held locally, the global role becomes very tricky. You’ll need to secure buy-in and budget from local markets to develop global assets; this can be a major uphill task without strong management direction.

To avoid these pitfalls, be clear about where the budget sits from the start, and make sure all stakeholders understand and adhere to the plan.

6. How to implement a global marketing campaign successfully

Global marketing campaign disasters usually arise when companies treat their localisation strategy as an afterthought, when in fact, the localisation strategy should be a key driver.

To recap, communicating regularly with your local teams will help to ensure your creative idea translates, all stakeholders are clear on their responsibilities, and budgets are adhered to.

Changing your mindset will increase the likelihood of your campaign’s success. To help you achieve this, you’ll need somebody who will hold all stakeholders accountable. We recommend appointing an Implementation Captain who is dedicated to the cause.

A poorly implemented campaign can be a recipe for disaster — even if you have a great creative idea in place. The moment you realise the importance of an effective localisation strategy you’re already half way to achieving global marketing success.

Are you dedicated to your next global marketing campaign’s success? Get in touch today to explore how we can help you with your localisation strategy, production and delivery.