August 22, 2021
Big corporations are like container ships. They are slow, difficult to steer, and fuel intensive. However, they also have some pluses. They are ships that carry huge amounts of cargo at a time. In subsequent containers we can find various goods. Imagine that such a container ship is your business and containers are your brand. This comparison may seem strange and on the surface should have nothing to do with marketing communications. Are you sure?
The global advertising world has become a world of adaptation. Local affiliates of large corporations rarely produce advertising campaigns locally. They usually use materials made centrally, in one of the company's main HUBs, for the campaign. This is a significant saving of time and above all money. Centrally produced advertising is also free from communication defects. Imposed communication means that in all markets the message to consumers is identical and consistent. It is a message that is closely correlated with the centrally accepted marketing strategy of the company.
There are few examples where global brands have tailored marketing communications to a local audience. This happened, among others, with Coca-Cola (in a big way - introduced Zam-Zam brand on the Iranian market) and Mattel's Barbie dolls (introduced Fulla dolls - corresponding to Muslim culture/religion). There are more examples - e.g. related to the underwear market, but for the purpose of this article we will omit them considering that they concern a very specific market and legal-political-cultural situation.
So we are already a container ship which sails on the sea of competition on a course once chosen. Let's consider what implications this has in marketing communications to the brand's customers.
With no "religious" obstacles to product communication, we have everything: shots recorded, spot assembled, rights bought, all that remains is to add VO (voice over) or even replace only the subtitles appearing in the spot and... done! Nothing easier!
So this article will be about globalization and adaptations that do not suit local markets? um... nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, shtick and only adapting global ads to local languages is a mistake in my opinion (I'll be sure to write more about this), but we are supposed to focus on this one major mistake in brand communication after all. But what could be worse than unfortunate adaptations of global advertising to local markets? Of course you do! This article is about that mistake. This is also already included in the title of the article, but you - dear reader - may not have paid due attention to it. Today we're going to talk about honesty in brand communications.
I recently had a long conversation with one of the strategists of one of the world's global brands. We're talking about a multi-brand company here. Each is a global brand. So we're dealing with a supercontainer ship here. I clearly expressed my concern about the fact that the brand (as a whole company) uses mutually exclusive strategic assumptions in its communications. In all its brands, the company highly encourages its clients to be themselves, but... while emphasizing that they will be even more themselves when they buy and use their brand's products. For me, as a consumer, even subconsciously, by the fact that the communication is internally questionably consistent, it makes me feel insincere in its message.
During a long conversation we came to a common conclusion, which I will summarize for you here, mainly so as not to waste your time reading about our mind boggling complexities and the blind alleys we reached. The problem turned out to be the marketing strategy adopted. The desire to direct the container ship to flow with currently popular trends, but at the same time accentuate the qualities of the product by force-fitting the communication to the assumed trend - led to dissonance in brand communication. Customers may feel lost in such communication. Ultimately they perceive it as untrue, false.
Will this action stop the container ship? Certainly not right away. Just like a container ship won't stop right away (barring disaster). A wealthy company can push any marketing communication, no matter how contradictory and absurd. Simply put, marketing expenditures will increase because customers will decrease. Ultimately there is a huge probability, and if the company does not change direction - in my opinion a certainty, that the brand will lose the trust of customers. Customers will find brands that communicate honestly with their audience and will follow through.
Conclusion: not long ago, lying was acceptable. They were all lying, so it was no surprise to anyone that yet another brand was lying. You surely remember the ads with models and celebrities retouched in photoshop. Then there were brands communicating truth and honesty in their marketing communications. It was like a revelation, and customers started following these brands and buying their products.
The problem with large corporations as well as container ships is the long response time to actions. Another diversion takes an enormous amount of time, effort and resources. Corporations don't like change because the people who work in them - just operate by momentum in the areas they know. Container ships, however, will not disappear. They'll swim. Since they are flowing, maybe their marketing strategy is the right one?
But I wonder if they couldn't flow faster if only they were sincere in their marketing communications.
The above article is the private opinion of the author. It was not intended to offend anyone or depreciate the brand. We treat this article in educational terms. If you feel that the author in any way e.g. violated the good name of your brand - contact the author. I'm sure we'll come to a common understanding.
A professional with many years of experience gained during the full process of designing and implementing marketing strategies, brand building, marketing communication, organization of trade marketing activities and their logistics in the supply chain. An expert in the field of brand activation, lotteries, commercial marketing, shopper marketing, e-commerce. A person with an open mind and taking advantage of opportunities that the competition does not see. Multidisciplinary, with a lot of positive energy. A negotiator using the Scotwork method.