GLOBAL BALANCING ACT: "Think global act local" is the motto ofworldwide PR initiatives. Claire Murphy discovers how two global accountteams tackle this in practice

In a year where new business is suddenly harder to come by, winning

a major global account is cause for genuine celebration. But, as fast as

the benefits of global business are discovered, the logistics, politics

and cultures that divide the world pop up and make everything tricky.

Everyone who wants to be anyone in the corporate world talks the global

talk, but often global doesn't mean global at all. Rather, it means

gaining work in several key markets, with the potential for

expansion.



The case of BP



Take BP, for example. The company bought oil giant Amoco in 1998 - a

major event - which prompted the need for a new corporate identity. It

took on Ogilvy in January 2000 to plan the relaunch with its sister ad

agency, Ogilvy & Mather. Then in March 2000, BP bought another oil

company, Castrol.



It relaunched in July 2000 with a new logo and slogan - Beyond

Petroleum.



The idea behind this new identity, according to Michael Fox, the global

head of the account at Ogilvy, is to project BP as "a different kind of

energy company," with four key attributes: performance-focused,

progressive, innovative, and environmentally and socially

responsible.



The rebranding was a massive exercise in the UK and US, where the BP

brand is prominent. In the US, the relaunch had to reach a wide audience

using extensive media relations. The company chose to launch a prototype

of its ultra-modern, new BP Connect gas station at the same time.

Complete with Internet kiosks, solar paneling, fresh food and clean

fuels for sale, the station neatly encapsulated all that BP wanted to

project about its new image.



"It was a tangible way of putting BP's new brand values to work," says

Rich Bartecki, senior VP in Ogilvy's Chicago office. The idea turned out

to have been a good one - almost every one of the top 50 media markets

in the US covered the story.



But the agenda was different in Asia. Thanks to the legions of tuk-tuks

(oil-fed, motorized three-wheelers) roaming the streets, Castrol is a

prominent brand. So rather than jump in and start publicizing the new

BP, the priority in Asia was the oil business.



The differences in work extend beyond determining which business units

are more important where. For instance, Ogilvy has had to concentrate

much more on internal communications in Asia during the process of

melding BP's and Castrol's work forces, according to Frank Pizzurro, the

agency's director of the corporate and finance practice in

Singapore.



"In the US and Europe, people are ready to sit down with former

competitors, lay their ideas down on the table, recognize that one side

did something better than the other and say, 'We can learn from that,'"

explains Pizzurro.



"But in Asia, people tend to hold things much closer to their chests. We

have had to pay more attention to exercises to encourage people to work

together."



Thinking locally about the global strategy raised an encouraging number

of opportunities for BP in Asia. Thanks to its raft of auto-racing

sponsorships, the Castrol brand was already equated with performance

there, something that the PR team felt could be leveraged to aid the BP

brand.



But the idea of promoting a company as green caused a few furrowed brows

- Asia isn't the most environmentally aware region in the world. Little

has been done to promote this aspect of BP's brand in Asia, although

Pizzurro wonders if the difficulty could be turned into an asset if BP

becomes one of the few companies in the region to play the environmental

card.



Politicking



And then there's the business of politics. Global operations are

sensitive, and winning a global account involves more than striding into

the local client's office and asking where the PR plans are.



"After the appointment (of Ogilvy) was made in London, the word went out

to all the operating divisions of BP across the world that we are the

preferred PR partners," explains Pizzurro. "So we would go into the

local clients' offices in various countries and introduce ourselves.

Often, they would say, 'Oh yes, we've been told we should meet up with

you. When we need some assistance you'll be the ones we call.' It would

have been helpful for us, in some cases, if they had had more direction

from above."



So although Ogilvy had already done all the pitching to the global

managers, Pizzurro's team found themselves pitching again to earn the

respect of local BP management. "It was more of a case of us persuading

them that we have expertise they can take advantage of," he says. "The

energy sector in this region isn't naturally keen to talk to the outside

world about its operations, so our mission was to get them to be more

open."



The case of Ernst & Young



Like BP, Ernst &Young is in the midst of an identity change. After

selling its consulting business to Cap Gemini, it is refocused on its

accounting roots. The firm hired Hill & Knowlton in May 2000 (initially

for work in the US only) to promote the new E&Y as a global business.

The agency created three message points: E&Y has a superior

understanding of the rules of the new economy; it has the technical

infrastructure to provide global client service; and it is a great place

to work with the "best" people.



E&Y told H&K that its contract would extend internationally, but due to

the unique nature of E&Y's business (many of the offices are

partner-owned), the agreement would have to be adopted on an

office-by-office basis.



"We have been recommended to the other E&Y offices across the world,"

explains Ann Wright, director of H&K New York's corporate practice.

"It's a much better system than when people are just told to use an

agency.



I've been in that situation, on both the client and the agency side, and

it causes problems. People in the local office have to feel like they've

appointed you."



This type of arrangement doesn't always involve the hassle of pitching

to a client with whom you're already supposed to have a

relationship.



In Sweden, says H&K Stockholm account manager Jonas Rodny, the local E&Y

client saw the advantages pretty quickly. "The director of marketing

realized it would be good to work with the agency that is handling the

business in the US. He originally thought he might hold a pitch with

other agencies, but in the end he just used us."



Wright feels H&K has achieved a good balance of global and local with

the E&Y account. The agency has set up an Extranet that provides common

PR materials to E&Y offices for the company's Entrepreneur of the Year

contest, which is in its final stages. Offices can use the local H&K

outpost, or simply use the Extranet. H&K has now established

relationships with E&Y offices in the UK, Canada, Argentina and Sweden,

and it will soon begin working with a branch in Mexico.



Although E&Y is in the early stages of moving its image to the

international stage, local offices are already planning initiatives

around H&K's message points. Rodny's team in Sweden has focused on

finding ways to portray E&Y as an attractive place to work. But in

Argentina, the concentration has been more on promoting the E&Y name,

because those offices have only been known under that name since last

year (they previously operated under the names of the partners).



The truth about global accounts is that they are as different as the

nature of the businesses themselves. The trick is to recognize to what

degree the account leans global or local, and adjust expectations

accordingly.



"It's like a game where you're given five cards - you have to use all

five, but you can choose which to play first," observes Pizzurro.



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