Apart from a few obvious global giants, few brands establish dominant positions in multiple markets. Often this has become one of the main challenges for brands to create one single global creative platform.
There are a number of reasons behind it. Different perception and taste of the product is one, what I call the ‘marmite effect’. Or the product could simply be reaching a totally different product life cycle in each local market. Orangina is one such example.
When Miss O meets Tora-san
In France, the brand began its production in 1963 and has been so established that, arguably, it has become a lifestyle brand. In its popular advertising featuring the classic Orangina Rouge to the controversial ‘furry animals’ campaign back in 2008 through to the most recent ‘Miss O’ creative platform, it’s all about creating buzz and keeping the brand fresh and current in the mind of consumers. It’s what’s outside that counts!
In the new series of spots by Fred & Farid Paris directed by Joseph Kahn, the lady wolf is portrayed as a heartbreaker, in “Working late” she lies to her wimpy boyfriend and then in “Dump”, she breaks up with him in a very public way. The work, centred around the wolf, who is Miss O, asks you who really is the boss when it comes to relationships.
The local culture also provides a perfect playground for such creative platform to flourish, share and engage. The tagline “C’est qui le sexe fort?” (creatively adapted as “Who is the boss” or literally means “Which is the strong sex?”). Interestingly, the French consumers with GSOH are not steered to take the message literally, and the creative idea was instantly recognised, accepted and embraced.
On the other side of the globe in Japan, Suntory acquired the Orangina brand in 2009 and the new-look Orangina replacing the classic pear-shaped bottle was just launched in March. As a relatively new brand in the market, being French has its advantage. The recent ‘Toro-san’ campaign featuring Richard Gere rides on that ‘foreignness’ and was distinctively designed for that market.
In the launch commercial, Richard Gere appears as Tora-san, the lovable ‘loser’ in Shochiku’s very popular 48-film series of Japanese comedy movies entitled 『男はつらいよ』(It’s Tough Being a Man). Not only is he a contemporary adaptation of the original character played by Kiyoshi Atsumi, the commercials also use the same iconic music “Otoko wa Tsuraiyo” from the series.
The original Tora-san in 『男はつらいよ』:
The underlying message is that the brand is a western idea adapting within the framework of the Japanese culture. By riding on the character of Tora-san who is famous for being a bumbling Mr. Everyman, gives the brand personality a distinctive western dimension.
George Field wrote in his book “From Bonsai to Levis” (1983), and commented that in Japan culture, contrary to the stereotype, the woman is the boss (in the context that Japanese women control the purse strings in the family and are well positioned to occupy the seat of power).
There is an intriguing irony between the dominating ‘Miss O’ and humble ‘Tora-san’ here. Though I have a feeling that it is just a happy co-incidence, I cannot help but imagine what if ‘Tora-san’ meets ‘Miss O’, could that be a marriage made in heaven?
Could that be a cross-border joint production and creative adaptation?
One might argue that going for a completely localised approach, it means that it will be a long way when Orangina can create a truly global brand that captures a common language as in the case of some other globally aligned beverage brands.
For the time being, the brand may not be able to take advantage of the costs efficiency enjoyed by creating a centralized global idea that many marketers aim for, but they certainly give the brand an opportunity to grow with the local market at the right time, in the right place. This also reinforces the belief that there is no single, optimal answer to the question of how to manage a global brand.