ASIA: Global brands must work hard in 2018 to stay relevant in increasingly nationalistic and fragmented markets that have strong local competitors, according to a senior agency executive.

What every brand needs is a ‘north star’ that guides them regardless of which market they are operating in, said Jessica Davey, CMO at McCann Worldgroup APAC, at the recent Advertising Week Asia event in Tokyo. (For more on how global brands can be successful in local markets, read WARC’s report: Making global brands relevant in a fragmented world.)

“A global brand needs to stand for something. What it stands for can potentially shift and have different emphasis depending on which market it’s in, but it should always have a ‘north star’ – as a business and a brand, it should always stand for something,” Davey said.

McCann Worldgroup’s study on the power of global brands, entitled The Truth About Global Brands, revealed that multinational brands still hold a huge amount of influence.

For example, 85% of those surveyed believe that global brands have the power to make the world better, 78% believe that the world is a better place because of global brands while 87% believe that global brands have the power to expand opportunities for themselves, their families, and their cultures.

But global businesses are under a huge amount of pressure, Davey said.

“[Brands] have to be prepared to be investigated and to be challenged as a brand now in a way that you probably weren’t being two or three years ago,” she said.

“People will look up your ingredient list, they will look up your supply chain. They will look up the vendor that sells you your packaging … Your entire brand strategy, everything that you say, the way your employees behave, has to be immaculate.”

Davey proposed a balance between global and local brand values, ‘globality’, as a way through. Agencies can help, she believes, in finding that balance of long-term thinking and short-term activation as well as making global brands locally relevant.

She explained: “We’ll help them understand the cultural tensions. We live in that market. We have teams in those markets.

“We can take back to our clients an understanding of that market and the local nuance … we need to also make sure that we are constantly advocating for locally-driven creativity, rather than just globally effective appeal to the lowest common denominator.

“It’s very important that we fight to make sure that the work works for the market, not just in a market.”

Sourced from WARC