Creative International Marketing: Same Company, Different Approach

international marketingInternational marketing: the way companies get out the word and target audiences who may not be local to the United States. When marketing outside of the US, your company needs to think outside of the box. There’s a difference between marketing nationally and marketing to a specific country or region, and Coca-Cola’s about to show some of the reasons for their success.

Teach the World to Sing

Huge corporations like Coca-Cola have to consider the enormous expanse of their market area. With companies like Coke, which sells its products all over the world, much of the work starts at home. National marketing for small businesses is similar, especially online, where you have the chance to promote your service by refining your content for excellent SEO. Of course, when marketing back at home, it’s hugely important to come up with something that is universally appealing – which can be a difficult, considering the broad diversity of the population within the borders of the US.

This commercial, which ran in 1971, is now regarded as an advertising classic.

Coca-Cola’s “Teach the World to Sing” ad shows a blissful, almost angelic multiculturalism. It’s what Coca-Cola’s image is about: people are coming together. Coca-Cola presents an image of people who look toward a brighter future and become part of the process that makes it happen. The ad was targeted at American viewers, but its global and universal message worked to make people feel like this ad was not only about them, but about everyone.

Make Tomorrow Better

International marketing is its own creative process. When you’re targeting a specific nation, you have to remember that no country’s population is completely homogenous. Just as in a marketing strategy that targets the entire US, your international marketing strategy has to provide a message that is universal within the country’s borders.

Consider this Egyptian Coca-Cola ad, which aired in 2011.

Ahmet C. Bozer talks about this commercial a little more in depth in an interview with Strategy + Business. International business, for Bozer, is a blend of global marketing and local marketing. It’s the job of the strategists behind Coca-Cola to make sure the same message applies across the world.

Coca-Cola’s Egyptian “Make Tomorrow Better” commercial is a spin on the same dream of a brighter future that it has associated with its brand for decades. Bozer talks about the relevance of this particular ad to the Arab Spring uprisings. In this case, the brand is still about people working together to create a brighter future, but the setting is specific to the nation of Egypt: the ad takes place in a gray, gloomy Tahrir Square, and the citizens are literally opening up the clouds to make the sun come out. It’s the Coke promise of optimism and happiness that the brand creates.

How Do They Do It?

The answer is the same as in any marketing strategy: research, research, research. Coca-Cola employs top-ranked marketers who work closely with local agencies and have excellent insights into consumer responses. The company operates out of its headquarters in Atlanta, but has individual teams all over the world.

What About the Rest of Us?

Okay, so small businesses don’t have the power or resources that Coca-Cola does, but there’s still a lesson to be learned. The takeaway is this: do your research, be creative, remember your audience’s interests, and stick to your brand, and the rest will follow.

What lessons can you take away from Coca-Cola’s international branding?

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Tree

Tree is a somewhat nomadic graduate student pursuing an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation from Drew University. A self-identified “diplobrat,” she spent over 16 years living as an expat in countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, and Tanzania. Tree graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature, a minor in Studio Art, and a concentration in Landscape Studies. In between writing poetry for school and content for CEM, she dabbles in goat herding and freelancing. Other interests include reading, watercolor painting, gardening, and traveling.

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