Single Most Common Error Made By International Brands
On 20th August the Brand Quarterly Magazine published Elliot Polak’s ‘Open Mic’ feature on the topic: “Global Branding and Marketing” alongside other members of the Brand2Global London 2015 Advisory Board.
What is the most common error brands make when they first attempt to implement an international campaign?
The most common mistake I see first timers make is pushing out an idea or campaign that hasn’t been culturally checked. This can be very costly. One luxury hotel launched in Asia with a brand name that meant “Pig’s Tail” in Chinese – fortunately, they later became a client. For one of its early global campaigns an American coffee chain promoted Christmas Cheer in Muslim markets – they became a client too! But it even happens to sophisticated international brands. One global megabrand’s new name means a sexual act in Russia. A global burger chain’s commercial in Spain made light fun of Mexicans. Word got back and it negatively impacted sales both in Mexico and Latino communities in the US.
You might think this is strange. It’s not that hard to do a quick sense check with experts. But it is usually an organisational issue. Campaigns tend to be designed in something like an ivory tower of creativity, in the city where headquarters are based: everybody falls in love with it and by the time someone spots the cultural issue it’s too late.
The result can be disastrous in terms of wasted money and damage to brand reputation. And with social media instantly amplifying your every little misstep across the world, everyone is at risk.
We systematically recommend that brands pre-check key marketing ideas for key markets at an early stage, before approving or finalising the concept. Not only does this avoid pain, it usually increases impact and sales across markets.