Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

One world, one office

You do not need multiple offices to deliver consistent and creative messages globally

missing image fileBack in the good old days, before globalisation dominated communications, agency and client promotion used to be all about working in a small core team that understood the client's product and market, and delivered work that was effective and highly individual. The agency would then work hard to change doctors' behaviour in the client's favour.

But things have changed. Along came globalisation and agencies had to adapt to the demand for global ideas and global execution. This in turn meant a worldwide office network and teams of flying Euro-execs implementing a single image created elsewhere to run everywhere.

The role of the ads was to please as many research respondents as possible and offend no-one. The chosen image would be rigorously applied worldwide to ensure the brand was universally represented in a consistent manner.

One can't help feeling that the need for control slightly overtook the need to communicate effectively, and that the need for consistency became more important than the ability to cut through and communicate clearly. No-one can say how much was wasted when tens of similar ads for dissimilar products appeared out of the global market research machine, but it is probably millions of Euros.

The most important part of marketing is not the efficient production of material, but rather the powerful communication of messages. Bland communication is wasted money, nothing less. An efficiently produced bland message might as well have not been produced in the first place. What we need is communication that is surprising, interesting and thought-provoking, and that is also produced efficiently.

Preventing aberrations in regional communications is important. It is true that we live in a global communications world and we need consistency in what is said about a brand, but we are foolish if we replace consistency with uniformity. At the moment too few pharma communications are produced with any awareness of the need to compete for attention. Consequently they're too similar. They tick the right boxes in research, but don't actually stand out enough to get noticed in the real world.

Take, for example, what we call the 'Hallelujah' imagery currently so favoured in global ads. In this, a patient stands (or leaps) with their arms in the air, celebrating the 'freedom' that drug X has given them. This probably tested well in research, offering a positive vision of the patient's future with drug X, but there is a problem in the real world; there are over 25 of these ads running right now, all for different products. Some complete the banal picture with the 'hallelujah' imagery retouched into a sunlit beach scene.

What kind of communications process produces 25 identical ads for completely different products? Certainly not one that has effective communication with the customer at its heart.

We need something different; something that gives the marketer an efficient global process, but that restores interaction with the customer, realising that this is the only end product that matters.

I believe the most efficient way to produce effective communication is not through a big network running a process across several countries, it is with the original tight-knit team of client and agency in which the creative teams understand the product and its target market intimately. This allows the team to ensure the products' differences are translated into powerful communications that persuade audiences to buy them.

When local adaptation is needed, a small core team can tackle it with greater flexibility and efficiency; ensuring that core values of the brand are retained, and avoiding both the bland visuals and lack of local adaptation that spoils so many campaigns from communicating effectively.

This new model has one agency office at its hub comprising a dedicated team, and a client-specific network to deliver materials. Creatives, planners and account teams that are learning the client's business together are delivering what is needed, where it is needed, without traversing airports or occupying numerous meeting rooms.

Global work does not need more than one office to deliver. It can be specific to the brand and its most competitive points; adapted as necessary for local needs and delivered through a dedicated secure extranet that places up-to-date artwork at everyone's fingertips.

The future is a return to customer-centric communications, where the process of delivery globally comes second to the quality of the communications and is all the more powerful for it.

The Author
Dominic Owens is head of planning at Seven Stones

5th November 2007


Subscribe to our email news alerts

Featured jobs


Add my company
EPG Health

REACH, ENGAGE & MEASURE HCPs ONLINE - Accomplish meaningful engagement via Medthority (, a trusted independent medical website. Support the...

Latest intelligence

Top-10 Reasons Why You Should be Adding Asynchronous Virtual Touchpoints Between Your Real-time Meetings
Influenza – the risk to vulnerable populations
Why we can't get complacent about flu vaccination...
Alzheimer’s Research UK highlights socio-economic inequalities in dementia risk
The charity aims to improve the number of women participating in dementia research and grow awareness of dementia risk factors...