"What Makes Global Advertising Work?"

By Espey, James S. | Chief Executive (U.S.), June 1996 | Go to article overview

"What Makes Global Advertising Work?"


Espey, James S., Chief Executive (U.S.)


or you don't You either have it

The more corporations seek to extend their brand-name products into increasingly diverse international markets, the louder the debate over the potential effectiveness of global advertising will rage. Some companies, burnt by the disasters that accompanied poor translations, unexpected cultural differences, regional competition, and, most critically, unresolved corporate politics, have given up on the notion of a unified advertising campaign entirely, lending intensified meaning to the concept of thinking global but acting local. Other companies, however, have decided that the benefits, economies, and consistencies that global advertising promises make crafting a global campaign worth the effort. And sometimes, given the right circumstances, the right prduct, the right pitch, the right markets, and the right preparation global advertising has proven it can live up to the promise its partisans proclaim.

The global campaign The Chivas and Glenlivet Group launched, via the advertising TBWA, in 1995 for Chivas Regal, was, according to C&G President James Espey, just such a campaign. In the following article, Espey explains why this campaign, six months in the making, is working and, more specifically, how C&G and TBWA plan to ensure its success in the long term.

The Chivas and Glenlivet Group has strategic responsibility for the longterm health of key Seagram brands around the world-particularly our flagship brand, Chivas Regal. But this is not as simple as it sounds. Our company is divided into three regional divisions which work hand-in-glove with the Chivas and Glenlivet team. These other groups control all the distribution companies on the ground and thus are the primary customers for Chivas Regal. They import the brand from Scotland, distribute it to their customers in the trade throughout different world markets, and are responsible for all local marketing initiatives.

That means they live much closer to the consumer and are concerned with immediate, shortterm needs, while those of us in a central strategic role have a much longer-term, holistic view of the brand and its prospects. While I, as president of the Chivas and Glenlivet Group, may see myself, then, as the ultimate brand champion for Chivas Regal, it is my peers at these other divisions who are actually responsible for generating the company's profits in the marketplace.

It's important, clearly, to find a healthy balance between the long- and short-term needs of the corporation. This can be difficult in an organization that, like most others, is full of "marketing experts," people who believe that, if they are closest to the consumer and work with local advertising agencies, their ideas should predominate. And it makes it incumbent upon the brand, company, and champions-the C&G team, in this case-to demonstrate positively and constructively that there is a need for a global campaign that transcends local considerations. At the same time, however, the team must make sure that regional management is working with or on behalf of local management in the quest for the best solution.

Just as important as getting buy-in for a global campaign from local and regional management is getting buy-in from top management. When I first suggested the idea of new and truly global advertising within Seagram, our parent company, I made sure I rapidly gained the support of the president of the Spirits and Wine Group, Ed McDonnell, as well as the president and chief executive of The Seagram Company Ltd., Edgar Bronfman Jr. Their endorsements were a major factor in helping to focus people's minds throughout the group on the fact that we actually should consider having a worldwide campaign. Any uncertainty from the top would have been picked up quickly around the globe. The internal problems of then selling an idea not supported unequivocally by top management would have been intolerable, if not impossible. …

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