Global brands ‘struggling’ with temptation to control local marketing from global HQ

JorgGlobal brands are constantly battling the temptation to control local country marketing from their global headquarters with Audi among them, the car manufacturer’s Korea marketing chief has admitted.

Jorg Dietzel revealed that Audi’s German bosses are contemplating taking its marketing in-house, a strategy many brands have already adopted as they seek to present a consistent message across the world.

He also admitted to changing his views on the subject after previously questioning the belief that certain markets had their own nuances.

“It’s funny because a long time ago I built a network of agencies for Audi out of London so I was in the centre position and I was always getting upset about markets that were doing others things, that were ‘not invented here’,” Doetzel said.

“[They used to say] ‘our market is so different’ and I’d say, ‘yeah, right’. Now that I’m in the market I am having a slightly different perspective.”

All but two two of Audi’s agencies in Korea are local, he said, “because they know the local market”.

Speaking yesterday at the Association of Data Driven Marketing and Advertising (ADNA) conference in Sydney, Doetzel said: “It is something that big global brands are always struggling with. It’s consistency verses local relevance. What do you want? Can you have both?

“We are lucky that they [Audi] are not forcing us to use their global materials but I know they are thinking of it. Global brands are always thinking about it for money reasons, for consistency and branding reasons, but I hope we still have some time to do our own things.”

He argued that Audi is in a “strong position” in that its brand “doesn’t prescribe much”.

“That is unlike our competitors. If you see most of the work for BMW or Mercedes Benz, that comes from Germany, that is global work.

“In Korea, the market is so different and the development of the brand is so different. We are the same brand but not at the same stage of understanding and perception as they are in Germany, so we need to do things differently.

“Some kind of crazy colourful Daft Punk commercial is great for Germany, but in Korea that would not work. We needed to position it up a little bit, to being a bit more serious while still playful.”

In Germany, marketers would be forbidden from using the word ‘prestige’ in Audi’s advertising, Doetzel said, but in Korea it is necessary in order to clearly articulate where the product sits.

“In Germany they would never allow us to say prestige, you don’t say it, you show,” he told delegates. “But we need to be a little bit more in your face in Korea to make sure they understand that Audi is a prestigious brand.

“What we told people is that we are the next big thing. We are only number three here as we started late. BMW is leading, then Mercedes Benz, then comes Audi. We are not yesterday’s brand, we are not today’s brand,  we are tomorrow’s brand. We are tapping into that kind of ‘I want the latest and newest’.”

Doetzel added that marketing has to be relevant. An Audi TV ad shot in Korea  – “rather than San Francisco” – received a positive response as locals said it “made us proud to be Korean”.

Steve Jones


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