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Opinion and Insight

For the Love of Local Ideas that the World Can Really Get Behind

LBB Editorial , 3 years ago

Laura Swinton celebrates advertising's local flavour

For the Love of Local Ideas that the World Can Really Get Behind

Not so long ago, big brands were all about far-reaching, global campaigns. It made sense, I guess, from a financial point of view. You’d save a few pennies by commissioning one ad to be chopped up and repackaged for different markets. But the overall effect was just a little bit… blah. That’s why the resurgence of local ideas that the world can really get behind has been quite exciting to witness over the last couple of years. And recent experiences at Spikes and the London International Awards have confirmed that there has never been a better time to think local. 

Not so long ago, local advertising was seen as a little bit provincial – unless your ‘locality’ happened to be London, New York or Sydney. It was something everyone aspired to leave behind in order to become worldwide creative superstars. But change is definitely in the air. There’s a growing confidence in countries like India, Indonesia, Colombia, Peru, South Korea, Singapore. And that confidence is allowing these local advertising industries to focus on smart, incisive ideas that embrace local culture rather than simply ape more established markets or aspire to some sort of homogenous watercolour. 

But in 2014, ‘local’ advertising doesn’t have to mean silo’d markets or inward-looking creativity – talent still moves all over the world and collaboration between different offices in different countries can be incredibly fruitful – as projects like Coca-Cola’s Small World Machines from Leo Burnett Chicago and Sydney proves. It’s just that instead of aspiring to a single, global ideal, success comes from digging right down into the specificities of a particular place.

The rise in ‘local’ advertising has happened in tandem with the shifting media landscape. Outdoor is ‘so hot right now’ with more or less every big global creative gushing about how much they love it. And, of course, more than any other channel the success of an Outdoor campaign hinges on how well it works within its context. Activation ideas are all about individual experience and digital and social demand a personable approach, all of which demands a nuanced understanding of social mores, colloquialisms and quirks.

Speaking personally, it makes my job more interesting. It makes the work I see every day more surprising and, being a knowledge hoarder, I love being able to learn more about what works – and why – in different countries around the world.

At last week’s LIA Creative Conversations, both Leo Burnett’s Mark Tutssel and McCann’s Rob Reilly noted that geography is no longer a barrier to creating great work. As long as you’re working with the right people and have some smart insights to bounce off, even someone in the smallest, non-central agency office can create brilliant local work that gets the whole world excited.