Tag Archives: International

Welcome to Anytown, America! [Your Ad Here]

As reported by Mark J. Miller on brandchannel and the New York Times, many American cities are getting creative to earn more cash. 

How can you drum it up when everybody is also paying extra close attention to where a wallet’s contents are disappearing to? Cities are no different. Government services are hurting for cash and there are only so many ways to generate more dough.

Baltimore is currently trying to sell space on its fire engines to raise some extra pennies. And why not? The city’s current budget has made the elimination of three city fire companies necessary this summer.

Philadelphia is selling ad space on its subway fare cards and one of the city’s main train stops is now named for AT&T. Chicago is selling naming rights to its eleven “L” subway stations. As for the Times’ hometown, the naming rights for the Atlantic Avenue subway station at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn were sold in 2009, and the MTA implemented the Barclays name change in May.

The NYT report adds that corporate brands can cause confusion to the good citizens navigating them: “Cleveland recently named its new Bus Rapid Transit system the HealthLine after it received $6.25 million over 25 years from the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. (‘The HealthLine is not a number to call for free medical advice, any more than Quicken Loans Arena is where you go to take out a loan,’ its website notes.)”

The paper notes that KFC was one of the leaders in this form of advertising. The company “temporarily plastered its logo on manhole covers and fire hydrants in several cities in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee after paying to fill potholes and replace hydrants.” Sounds like not the worst tradeoff, right?

“As I’ve looked at budgets, they get bigger with less support from the federal and state governments,” Baltimore City Council member William Welch said. “And we can’t tax people out of existence. We’re trying, our mayor’s trying, to bring 10,000 more people back to Baltimore city. And if you have an increasing fee or tax structure, you’re not going to be able to do that. So you have to create alternatives.”

The Times notes that while selling naming rights raises money, it can also raise some thorny issues as well. The town of Tyngsborough, Mass., was considering selling ad space in order to raise money for new police cars, but it ended up deciding to not go there just yet. “Because of what we do, we like to be neutral,” said Chief William F. Mulligan, according to the Times. “Say there were two shopping plazas, and one advertised and one didn’t. Would that company feel like we weren’t treating them fairly?”

Chinese Find IKEA Is Swede Place for Romance

Ignore local knowledge at your peril: this is the lesson for retailers heading for China in the recent Wall Street Journal article “In China, Ikea is a Swede Place for Senior Romance” which Laurie Burkitt capably details.

Recounted in her revealing piece are educational stories about international retailers — IKEA, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s — that are getting accustomed to Chinese consumers expecting to use them as their home away from home, aiming to spend a great deal of time—if not serious money—at these usually generous sized, comfortable stores.  Examples from the article (below) can spare any business expaqnding there much time and stress:

Ikea: At the weekly IKEA romance session in Shanghai, the elderly arrive in swarms of 70 to 700 to get the free coffee offered to holders of the IKEA Family membership card. Ms. Tang, seated amid the backdrop of Poang reading chairs and Vreta poufs, sips coffee and says she is grateful to have such a meeting place. “I make more senior citizen friends when I come here,” said Ms. Tang. In China, IKEA is planning to up its nine locations to 17 stores by 2015 to meet demand from the nation’s growing middle class, who aspire to Western lifestyles at affordable prices. On a recent Sunday in Beijing, Liu Yunfeng sat in a 3,999 yuan ($625) white leather Tirup chair, watching home videos from the screen of her Sony digital camera while her shoeless daughter jumped on the Nyvoll bed of a mock-up room.

Wal-Mart: Several years ago, some Wal-Mart stores in China set up a children’s camp for summer and winter school breaks. During daily sessions, children are encouraged to try their hands as part-time greeters and announce deals over the broadcast system. “If I go to Wal-Mart I’ll want to go for the day,” said Cui Hongyan.

McDonalds: With its free Wi-Fi and clean bathrooms, is adding more electrical outlets to most of its China stores in hopes that people will actually come and hang around longer. In Hong Kong, the fast food giant is developing a service known as “McWedding” to encourage people to marry in their stores. One proposed feature of the ceremony: When it is time for the big kiss, the bride and groom can each chomp on the end of a french fry until their lips meet.

But did these retailers do their homework? Were they prepared for Chinese consumers expectations?

It seems that the retailer s relied on what worked in their home markets and are now struggling to adapt to consumers wanting to turn the retail experience into a full day social experience – “retailtainment.” Chinese consumers love Western and European brands and generally prefer them to their own Asian options. Retailers need to be educated about the unique demands of customers – they need to be relevant and have personality, which is exactly what Ikea, Wal-Mart and McDonalds have done – just a little too late. IKEA, however, is missing one of the biggest brand lessons – cultural sensitivity – when they propped up a notice board at the entrance of the cafeteria, which stated “IKEA would hereby like to inform this group and its organizers: Your behavior is affecting the normal operations of the IKEA cafeteria,” the notice said.

Comparably, Mercedes called on the local culture by flying over some of its best customers from China to join in a focus group to determine customer expectations in a new market. The brand not only differentiated itself, but it also went through the brand localization process, increasing its brand relevance and image in China. Again the key lesson here is to always challenge your assumptions and be prepared for foreign consumers’ very different expectations, particularly in the Chinese market.

Two Countries United by a Commoner

This article was just published in the Summer 2011 issue of Market Leader magazine (the house mag of the Marketing Society), showing the power of the “Will & Kate” brand and how well it travels across cultures, even before they were married… their effectiveness in opening the doors for British business around the world will be impressive if this is what brands have done before their marriage… (click here to read the full article)

“Who’d have thought a former British colony of 320 million people which declared UDI in recent history (well, recent by British standards) would so keenly want to rediscover their Britishness, embracing the idea of Royal weddings, calamari hats and pageantry with such gusto, such preoccupation, such envy, such marketing opportunities?

A number of Americans and their local brands celebrated the British milestone marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in various ways – some tasteful,
some not:

  • Diet aid Slim-Fast launched a tweet campaign to capitalise on the excitement of the event by spending $120,000 to tweet anyone interested in William and Kate.  The Royal Wedding enthusiasts found the #royalwedding delivering tweets from Slim-Fast
    with the message “look good for your own wedding with the Slim-Fast diet and check out our Facebook page.”  At the start of the actual ceremony, 11% of all tweets on Twitter contained the #royalwedding hashtag.  A very successful strategy for the brand, as from the day before the wedding until early-May, its followers increased from 930 to 1,356 while their Facebook page fans jumped from 16,000 to 21,400 by 2 May.  Not a bad ROI from the investment despite this untargeted tactic.
  • Sign the giant Royal Wedding congratulations card in LA at Madame Tussauds in Hollywood, where you can write your personal best wishes to Will and Kate.  The oversized greeting card “… (read more)

Think you’re a Corporate Diplomat?

One of the key skills for today’s ever-flatter world of commerce is the ability to be both “on message” and credible in all the regions your organization does business.  With the recent gaffes of BP, Toyota, Goldman Sachs and countless others, it’s very important executives can look and act local and “do” empathy in culturally-resonant ways.  Take our Poll here below and tell us what you think are the key traits of an effective corporate diplomat …

Chilean Miners: Recap of my BBC Breakfast Interview

As I discussed this morning in my BBC TV Breakfast interview, the successful rescue of the 33 miners is a welcome respite from the otherwise depressing news about economic turmoil, banker bonuses, paltry pensions and property prices.  What is key once the miners have had a chance to process all they’ve experienced, is that they get good advice about any marketing opportunities that are presented to them.  It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that life insurance, beer, personal hygiene manufacturers amongst others approach them to endorse their brands.  No doubt the William Morris agency is already on-site to secure movie and TV rights for their amazing story which might bring them at least a financial cushion on the back of the horrendous trauma they’ve experienced and the fact they are now all unemployed.  The happy ending in any case is one that delights everyone, regardless of where in the world they are.

An unexpected benefit I suggest is Chile’s country brand is now much more favourably viewed than before the miners were rescued.  It demonstrated to the world it can manage expectations (having told the media it would be Christmas at the earliest before the miners are rescued) and projects, having engineered the rescue capsule flawlessly and ahead of schedule.  Hopefully their inward investment team are working overtime to capitalise on this unexpected success and showcasing of talent.

Spotlight on America | In-Depth Analysis | Marketing Week


International Marketing Partners Director Allyson Stewart-Allen’s 2001 book Working with Americans highlights, among other things, that even though British and American culture is linked through history and language, key differences in approaches to business are worth understanding. She also revealed in her recent session with the Marketing Week-sponsored Marketing Academy that Americans put less importance on relationships but are more task-focused, and want to see numbers-based results and insights over qualitative commentary.

For Nicole McDonnell, marketing director of children’s food brand Ella’s Kitchen, cultural differences in her team’s personality in the US has been very obvious and unexpected. She gives the example of company job titles – Nicole’s business card says “head of making friends”, and the company managing director is Ella’s dad, and his job title is simply that. McDonnell feels this adds to the brand identity, but it has not gone down well with her colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic.

“In the States, it’s all about being the CEO or the vice-president. I would like them to use the job titles we use because they epitomise what the brand is about, but in the US they feel it doesn’t give them enough credibility in their market,” she explains. “I appreciate the titles we like to use might not give the right understanding of how senior somebody is, so getting the right balance on this is something we are in discussions about.”

Diageo’s Cristina Diezhandino, now regional marketing and innovation director for Africa, also discovered some key differences when she embarked on her first role in the US about 15 years ago. First, that the customary greeting of kissing a business colleague in Spain was not appropriate in the US. Second, that meeting formats were a lot stricter than what she was used to.

“Meetings had a set beginning and end, stated in advance, with specific agendas and an outcome to be achieved in that time. What surprised me was that people would simply stand up at the end of the period of time, say goodbye and leave.

“I now regard that as very normal, but when I first experienced it I thought it was not a polite way to end things. Then I realised that it is equally impolite to take up more of people’s time than necessary when they are very busy.”

 

Click here to read my comments in Marketing Week’s  cover feature: Beware the culture gap on global growth trail

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The World’s Best Countries: Newsweek’s study of health, education, economy and politics ranks the globe’s top nations

So Newsweek has recently issued it’s “World’s Best Countries” ranking  based on education, health, quality of life, economic dynamism, political environment.  The UK weighs in at 14th place – behind Germany’s 12th – but ahead of France’s 16th and Italy’s 23rd rankings.  Guess where the US is?  The United States ranks in 11th place – behind Canada’s 7th place and Japan’s 8th place – putting it in the middle of the G7.

Maybe one reason for the US’ mid-level ranking is the severity of this recession and how different it is from the past few — how chronically it has affected white-collar professionals, especially those in California which has an unemployment rate approaching 13%.  This one State, the world’s 7th largest economy, would displace Canada in the G8 if allowed to be admitted.  As a key driver of technology innovations and economic renewal, this is very bad news indeed.

What this recession has done, interestingly, is make American companies even hungrier for business, finding creative ways to retain custom more than ever before.   This is good news for consumers – customer service keeps improving – if evidenced only by my dry cleaners phoning me to extend a hearty thanks for my custom (can’t see that happening in European settings somehow!).

I also observed American department stores & supermarket retailers pushing their ‘value’ and own-label ranges which is a growing and lucrative source of income.

For more about Newsweek’s ranking:  http://www.newsweek.com/2010/08/15/interactive-infographic-of-the-worlds-best-countries.html

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