How do independent creative agencies create global campaign?

I recently led the adaptation and production of a campaign for a global brand across 7 markets in Europe. From the day the global idea was finalised to airing in all markets, it took just over 2 months to do all the work. In fact the main ‘action’ concentrated in the last three weeks of production. For those who know me, you’ll know that working collaboratively with client and their independent creative agency has been part of my life in the past 10 years. A lot of my former colleagues who are still working within network agencies often find what I do daunting – the number of issues that we face from clarifying the global idea, making it all work seamlessly, effectively and creatively in each market, to acting as a ‘glue’ to the wide range of ‘producers’ on the campaign in different agencies and not to mention the various local clients, local media agencies and local media owners…the list goes on.

Here I like to share a few of my thoughts:

1. Buy-in of the global platform

I cannot emphasize more on how important this step is. A lot of the global campaign fail to succeed not because of that it is not ‘understood’ by the consumer, but often because of the lack of communications between the lead global team and the local team. When the ‘not invented here’ syndrome kicks in, it creates more obstacles than you can imagine. Involve everyone in the decision making, listen to what the local market needs and respond. One of the ways we think often it works is to go an extra mile and demonstrate how the local market can extend the idea locally, inspire them and help them along the way.

2. Clarity of the roles of all the stakeholders

You need someone to act as the hub of all information. In my experience it is often the agency working on the multi-market adaptation work. The agency will be the centre of all information so that nothing needs to be done twice. The drive of a global campaign often needs good leadership from the top on the client’s side. We are not talking about dictatorship here but credible leaders with empathy of the local market need.

3. Strong creative support

It’s so wrong to think that adaptation is not part of the creative process. We also need to have the open-mindedness to embrace change and adjustment to the global idea. We are talking about adapting the concept not the execution.

4. Smart centralisation

Production is certainly a key process in the road map towards a successful campaign. We need to tailor-make a production process based on the nature of the client’s business, and the integral requirements of the campaign. There is no one size fits all idea neither should it be a standardised solution. I remember Tom Kinnaird, WPP Head of Commercial and Procurement Services once said ‘There is no such thing as best practice in production decoupling. Best practice is what works at the right time and in the right way.’

5. Technology

We make use of technology in our daily lives so it is natural that we should tap onto the advantages of technology in how we work. Technology can dramatically simplify the process; with the complexity of campaign nowadays, it adds value to every step from the time we set the brief across all markets, sharing information and adding transparency to feedback, to reviewing work among remote teams to fulfilment of media assets. Let the technology take care of these things and you can focus on the parts that makes the difference in the outcome of the work.

Last but not the least, don’t let anyone tells you that there are certain ‘formula’ on how a global ad looks like and what to ‘look out for’ in order to make sure your idea works. There is no formula and often those advices only lead you to go for the lowest common denominator!

To check out one of the recent adaptation projects that I led, check out my client’s youtube channel at:

Let’s Talk About Schweppes TVC: English original version and Swiss German and Swiss French versions: