The last word from the east: The art of 'close quarter combat'

Barney Loehnis
Ogilvy & Mather

Many global brand strategists ask: "What would it take for my brand to 'dominate in Asia?'" "Does a brand need to blanket the market with advertising to cut through?" "How can brands drive deeper emotional bonds, more relevant contextual communications, and make smarter choices about where they choose to invest, in order to win the long game?"

I remember when I first arrived in Asia seven years ago I worked on one such strategy for a global sports brand. The thought emerged that as the largest cities had most impact on all the other smaller cities across the region, an efficient strategy would be to focus on dominating the hearts and minds of the audience in just the top 10 cities; everything else would cascade down from there.

But what does it take to 'own' a city, and is that a viable strategy? In many Asian markets, such as China and India, brands have to be selective and patient and try to win one city at a time. Given that some of these cities consist of 20 million people, it is not unlike a country expansion process.