ITL #271 Hug me at the stage door, please: a Latin American perspective on globalization

11 months, 3 weeks ago


Going global means striking the right balance between local market insight and international capabilities. Although some degree of consistency is vital, we are not all the same! By Gustavo Averbuj.

Going global means striking the right balance between local market insight and international capabilities. Although some degree of consistency is vital, we are not all the same! By Gustavo Averbuj


Why develop global PR campaigns? Does this make any sense?


When globalization is under heavy fire and current economic policies call for everyone to go it alone, closed frontiers, a ‘fight the foreigners and strangers’ mentality and a return to protectionism, going global might sound as if it’s gone out of fashion.


Rubbing salt into the wounds, belonging to a global network sounds pretty much like being a dinosaur…moving among graceful gazelles on the savannah. 


And then, you start asking about Return on Investment and realize the boutique agency you chose in a particular country – in Asia or Latin America, for example – doesn’t have a clue about measurement. And its principals think the Barcelona Principles are something related to soccer superstar Lionel Messi! Or you have to send your brief in 10 different languages only to find out eight recipients completely misunderstood it.


Yes, nightmares also happen on a global scale. 


Small temptations

Going solo or ‘boutiquey’ or small is tempting and many times pays off. Yes, there are the global agencies that are extremely expensive for a structure you do not use. But the string of pearls of hand-picked small agencies most of the time ends up being more like the painted pasta necklace your kids used to make in kindergarten as a Mother’s Day gift!


Going global doesn't have to be a one-size-fits-all approach. You need a team that is sensitive to cultural nuances…and cultural nuisances. That speaks English and the local language with proficiency. That can properly translate ideas.


Many times, we make fun locally of the mandatory, politically correct photos including an African American, an Asian, a blonde girl; when in Latin America, that is not diversity at all. Including a fat person, or an Indian, would probably be more correct but...


From expression to color choices, we are all different. However, at the same time we share human commonalities. And if you are a global brand, you should think global PR.


PR markets are different as well. In size, in type of media, in celebrities, influencers or blogger impact, you may be surprised at how different implementation can look although it’s done to achieve the same goals. To provide just a couple of examples, even if we do have TV in the mornings, there is nothing similar to Good Morning America or the Today Show in our countries. Or daddy bloggers.


Size-wise, Latin America would probably be the stage door compared to the US market. In the Argentine market, we invoice in a year what the US market does in two or three days! And we are a middle-sized market compared to many like Bolivia, Paraguay or Uruguay, where you would hardly find more than a couple of agencies.


Comms fuelled by food

Those same differences apply to the type of strategies to follow. In the Latam case, we are Latins. We like to hug, to kiss...and good food. Everything is resolved around a table. So, any press conference would probably be a breakfast or a lunch. And you need to turn that into an enjoyable experience!


By the way, Latin America might be a region but it is not one country. There is no way to cover it all with one media (or PR newswire-like service). We seem to speak the same language (Spanish, except for in Brazil), but each country speaks it differently! (Don't get me started on the English differences between the UK and the US, it’s just the same).


So, when going global – whether it’s your first venture into foreign markets as you look to expand your brand, or a matter of aligning a global structure that make noises everywhere – finding the right Sherpas is crucial.


In these digital times, the butterfly that creates a tsunami might just be the misinterpretation or the wrong campaign your local brand manager did. It could become a huge global embarrassment in seconds. 


Going global also means believing in humanity as a whole. Looking beyond our differences in height, hair color or weight. Understanding we are all part of the human race. Therefore, whenever you start looking at your passport (or the global map), please invite us for lunch, hug us, laugh with us and make a toast – with the best Argentine wine, of course – to your global success!

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The Author

Gustavo Averbuj

Gustavo Averbuj is Regional Director Latam and CEO Argentina, Ketchum Public Relations.

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