Rethinking transcreation of global campaigns

In an article on how the adland weights up the impact of the recession (Campaign, 19 September), several agency heads had shared their insights. One aspect which I think is certainly emerging from the impact of the recession is how agencies now really have to think of ways to make global campaigns work. In relation to this we can also see agency network streamlining their operation. Martin Sorrell commented that it was “ludicrous” that his company didn’t have a common back-office but that each company operates independently (, 11 September). As someone who had been working on global and cross cultural campaigns for the past decade, I cannot help but stress the fact that organisation restructuring had to be accompanied with a rethink on how global campaign is created, adapted and implemented. The traditional concept of simply translating the work just from a language point of view will never work anymore and will certainly not be able to survive with the test of the time, especially in a climate where consumers think twice before they spend and will reject message that does not engage with them culturally.

It is relevant not only to creatives but everyone in the strategic team. Claire Beale already pointed out that during this year’s APG judging planners had emerged as ‘translators of global ideas into local culture’. The ‘Keep Walking’ campaign by BBH for Johnny Walker culturally adapted for the Chinese market is a perfect example.

In fact, transcreation of global campaign should not be regarded as an after thought but should be considered right from the beginning when the creative brief is written. Creative teams who are tasked in creating a campaign that will potentially go regional or global has to open up their mind and exercise their strategic thinking, not only from an execution point of view but also from a messaging point of view.

Using the much celebrated “carousel” TV campaign by Tribal DDB who has won the Cannes Film Grand Prix in 2009 as an analogy, all the technical aspects and the meticulously planned post production work had become the centre of attention; ‘special effects’ in this case is not purely a ‘post production procedure’, but has become an integral part of the big idea and was considered right from the very beginning. And that’s how the process of transcreation should be handled.

See the commercial here: