Inside the Mix

As marketing adopts pan-regional model, personalization becomes more important

As marketing adopts pan-regional model, personalization becomes more important

Working on an advertising magazine in London back in the swinging '90s,with the rich bounty of off-the-wall advertising that afforded, I admit I had a guilty pleasure: bad (creatively speaking), pan-regional advertising.

The ultimate was the European "Ambassador's Party" ad for Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Sophisticates from various countries (via central casting) plucked the delicacies from a white-gloved waiter's platter and exclaimed aristocratically that the ambassador always treats them so well. A cult classic, a whole cross-section of society could be heard hamming, "Oh, monsieur, you are really spoiling us!" at parties, dinner tables, and pubs all across England. Was the ad good? No, it was dreadful - poor acting, distorted soundtrack, and plastic music. But it probably had the highest unprompted recall of any ad in the country over the long term, and it certainly gilded the already posh chocolate with an extra little je ne sais quoi.

Another European ad was a subject of debate between a colleague and myself. For Bounty, the paper towel, Procter&Gamble had taken a departure from its increasingly creative advertising and was running an ad from Leo Burnett Germany. It was poorly acted and had a highly improbable product demonstration and - best of all - a jingle with stupid words. I loved it for all its badness, as a na?ve young pup not yet taking the ad industry seriously. My colleague hated it for being a step backward in P&G's creative trajectory in the UK ad scene. It did pick up a bit of cult status, but my colleague won: It was yanked before its run was due to end, and P&G got back on the road to the Clios.

What these ads have in common is that they were not made with the UK advertising audience in mind - people who simply expect their advertising to be idiosyncratic, on the edge of good taste (and frequently over it), and 60 seconds long without a hard-core selling message. They stood out for being none of these things.

In this week's Global Agency Report, PRWeek gathered together PR agency leaders from locations around the world to discuss global trends. A key message is that, in many regions, especially Africa and South America, marketing is still highly localized. All the while, these same people report that many companies are working toward a pan-regional or global marketing model. While PR and advertising are, of course, different disciplines, this is something that all in the marketing industry have been through. Media buying moved into international markets to achieve bulk negotiating power. Advertising and direct marketing followed suit, as such things as research and database management could be used across multiple regions. PR, anecdotally, was always the holdout, due to the requirement for local messaging, combined with there not being as many economies of scale.

But, of course, globalizing PR has more to do with simplifying the message than lowering the cost, and local people are still key to translating that message to local needs. Now that marketing has become so personalized, this, too, must happen in advertising, especially in these regions that have local peccadilloes. While Brits might find a pan-regional message amusing in its badness, less sophisticated audiences will be nonplussed, and marketing money will go to waste.

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