NEW DELHI: Brands and emotions are global but cultures are not and marketers need to adapt their campaigns to local markets a leading industry figure has said.

Speaking to Pitch Magazine, Madhukar Sabnavis, Vice Chairman and Country Head, Discovery and Planning, Ogilvy & Mather India, declared himself a "non-believer" in global ads.

"Indians will never be like Americans," he said, adding that a "greater connect with deep cultures in India is important to reach out to the mass market". And he gave the examples of brands such as Bajaj, Fevicol and Asian Paints which were, he said, "based on very strong social and cultural bonds".

Peter Haden, a consultant at McKinsey in London, touched on this area in a keynote speech to the Marketing Society's November Conference. "It's interesting that as the world gets more connected, local relevance is more important, not less," he said, citing an example from Uganda where he had discovered Lucozade positioned as a premium drink for HIV sufferers.

International brands are increasingly buying into the notion of localisation in all sorts of ways, with pizza chain Domino's, for instance, attributing its success in India – soon to be its second largest overseas market outside the US – to offering toppings to suit regional tastes and giving franchisees freedom to experiment.

And an Ernst & Young report last year highlighted the importance of emerging markets to global consumer products businesses, saying that these would need to "adopt a selectively localised portfolio approach" across the entire supply chain.

In terms of media, Sabnavis expected that television would continue to be the main advertising channel in India for at least the next five years. He pointed to the huge gap between 700m mobile users and 150m mobile internet users and said TV would lead while digital and mobile were used for consumer engagement.

Nor did he think that m-commerce was about to take off soon, although it was gaining a foothold in metro cities for some things, like booking tickets and paying bills.

Data sourced from Pitch; additional content by Warc staff