Column: An Ideawallah’s Eye
March 20, 2013 | Comments
In the hopes of inspiring better multicultural marketing work in Canada, GAVIN BARRETT shares four breakthrough advertising ideas from around the world
Full disclosure: in responding to Marketing’s request to review some of the best work in the world in multicultural home markets, I chose work from the same agency in two different markets. The agency is Bartle Bogle Hegarty, specifically BBH Mumbai and BBH Singapore.
(I must also confess that my kid brother Russell is managing partner, creative at BBH Mumbai.) The work produced for these audiences in their “home” markets is outstanding, while the work produced for the very same audiences in Canada is marked by mediocrity and tainted by tokenism. The favoured technique of Canadian advertisers seems to be “speak slowly and loudly” just in case “they” don’t understand. And do marketers imagine that immigrants don’t notice the lack of commitment to connect with them here? Here endeth the rant. On to the work.
1. Google Chrome
Indians in India have global opportunities, world-class talent and first-world ambitions, but they live—in many ways—in a third-world reality. To act, to do, is the only way to break through that reality, to harness talent, capture opportunities and reward those ambitions. BBH decided to position Google as the web platform for Doing instead of Viewing. Other browsers sold their features—what they could do. BBH sold what you can do—with Chrome. They created the idea the web is what you make of it, and found perfect proof for this in a village outside Chennai where artist and entrepreneur G Rajendran practiced an ancient but fading art form. Rajendran launched a website to promote the form globally, and even pitched it on Google AdWords. BBH dramatized his success story in a 60-second TV spot and a 90-second YouTube spot which went on to win multiple awards. More importantly, the campaign turned Chrome around and made it India’s leading web browser, ending over a decade of dominance by Microsoft.
2. Tricked In on LinkedIn
This extraordinary not-for-profit campaign by a group of interns at BBH Singapore used a shock tactic to raise awareness of sex worker trafficking. They posted—on LinkedIn—a “career” profile of a fictional sex worker named Kim Diya who had been tricked into prostitution. Kim—previously a voiceless sex worker—was now talking about her career in the same place that 110 million other people talk about theirs. The campaign encouraged LinkedIn users to “suggest connections” for Kim, rapidly spreading awareness of the issue. It’s how I became aware of the campaign. A friend “connected” me with Kim. A Vimeo-hosted video on the website for Tricked In closes the loop and asks viewers to give Kim a voice and promote her story via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. It is one of the simplest campaign ideas for social media that I have ever seen, but also one of the most powerful.
3. Nike India
This Nike TV spot created by JWT Bangalore and shot by (disclosure alert) friend Abhinay Deo celebrates the passion of over a billion cricket-crazy Indians. It travels the length and breadth of India to show the intensity of cricketers as they wake early, work hard and strive relentlessly in pursuit of their dream to one day “bleed blue” (blue is the colour of India’s national cricket team). The soundtrack is all vocal percussion, the editing is all driving energy, the cinematography is fantastic and the results are pure Nike. This is another great spot destined for Nike’s hall of fame—but maybe I’m biased because deep down my blood runs blue? (It may account for why I am also a die-hard Maple Leafs fan.)
A Grand Prix winner at Cannes in 2011, this Samsonite ad epitomizes the standard of creative coming out of the markets that Canada’s multicultural audiences call home. Created by JWT Shanghai, the ad illustrates two very different journeys on the same flight. Heaven is a traveller’s experience: a trip through the soothing white serenity of the passenger cabin. Hell, in direct contrast, is a descent into the inferno that the luggage hold represents. Great ads always represent an incredibly high level of commitment from the agency, but are only possible with the same level of commitment from the marketer. In Samsonite’s case (if you’ll excuse the pun), it’s paying off. By 2014, the company expects to earn more in China sales than in the U.S. (currently its largest market). This attitude is in sharp contrast to many Canadian advertisers; they understand, intellectually, that the only real Canadian growth market is the new Canadian market, but find themselves unable to convince themselves or their superiors to invest in sufficient measure to convert that into market share.
Gavin Barrett is founding partner, creative director and ideawallah at Barrett and Welsh in Toronto. This article appears in the April 4 issue of Marketing, out next week. Check the iPad edition of this issue to review the creative.