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Turning global ideas into local wins

Alberto Relaño

Innovation & Digital Director




We have all heard the mantra: 'Think globally and act locally', and the term 'Glocal', to distil the same concept into a single word. We live in a global, hyperconnected world, where success comes from those business models or ideas that are easily scalable to many countries, but that are implemented taking into account the idiosyncrasies and particularities of each individual market.

Although we are all people and share certain needs, motivations, emotions and dreams, our socio-political, religious, economic, cultural and digital context conditions our behavior, how we relate to each other, and how we relate to brands. This is why it is fundamental that we think big, but also adapt these big ideas locally.


In this sense, contextual and personalized marketing has more relevance than ever before. Technology is disrupting the world in which we are living, and enables individuals to be continuously connected. Brands are more likely to make an impression if they show that their products or services are relevant to consumers’ lives in the very moment when and where they really are.


Marketing managers face a challenge: how to make their global campaigns achieve relevance and reach, by taking advantage of contextual marketing and adapting content to the heterogeneity of local needs. Global brand teams often receive feedback from their local counterparts such as: 'My needs are different from global', or 'This positioning or message won’t work here'. In addition, decentralized budgets often work against efforts to establish global organizational models, and weaken the authority of global teams.


Achieving the right balance between global and local is the key. Purely global campaigns usually do not hit the mark locally with the content that they propose because they do not adapt to the particularities of the market; on the other hand, if a campaign is defined and created locally, it can detract from the consistency of a global campaign and fail to benefit from economies of scale.


There are many examples of mistakes being made because campaigns have been defined globally and not tuned locally. Ford launched an advertising campaign in Belgium to convey the idea that 'Every car has high-quality bodywork'. However, in translating it, the slogan read, ‘Every car has a high-quality corpse’. When the Swedish company Electrolux launched its high-powered vacuum cleaners in the USA in the early 70s, it famously announced that 'Nothing sucks like an Electrolux' which, although grammatically correct, does not have quite the intended meaning.

These sorts of mistakes are avoidable, and there are some good guidelines to follow to help global campaigns hit their mark locally:


• Start with a brand mission that stems from a universal human motivation. Lego’s, for example, is 'Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow'.

• Review the overall strategy of the brand before developing a new campaign. This means evaluating and revising the brand's vision, mission statement and positioning, working with local colleagues to align the strategy across the entire organization.

• Involve marketing teams in local markets as early as possible in the planning and testing process.

• Define which elements of a global campaign are mandatory and which can be adapted to the nuanced demands of each market.

• Ensure that the global marketing team and the local team speak the same language, understand the terminology used by the brand, and that the brand's communicating messages are perfectly aligned.

• Establish an organizational model that fosters collaboration, and the sharing of knowledge and assets between the global and local marketing teams. The model should define ways of working, establish the culture of the relationship, and have technological infrastructure and dedicated resources.


Only in this way will we be able to launch global campaigns in which the consistency of communication is achieved in the most efficient way possible, and is also adapted to the contextual requirements of each market.