Global, Multicultural Marketing: The Art of Finding the Heart

The very heart of global, intercultural, multinational marketing (could even be called “ethnic marketing”) is just that – the very heart.

So, to succeed in a country, it would seem the marketer needs to understand the heart of the country as a minimum. After that is the heart of the various populations, however you want to stratify them – race, culture, income, gender, politics, what have you.

This is the core of successful global marketing campaigns and successful multicultural marketing campaigns.

Target the heart at the optimal level to maximize the campaign’s ROI.

Marketers miss this. Advertisers miss this.

They go after the head and the hustle.

But when they nail it, it’s money.

And while B2C examples are much clearer, B2B should not overlook this, but it’s usually even more guilty of blasting features and assuming universal interest in…productivity, efficiency, etc.

A recent article in Campaign on the Asia-Pacific YouTube Ads Leaderboard got me thinking about this. It shows the leading ads in each Asian country. They speak volumes on the heart of these countries. Back to that in a second.

Messaging Strategies for Successful Marketing Campaigns

Business students and MBAs can look back on the wise nuggets you’ve forgotten from their Integrated Marketing course. Here there’s a lens. See if these ring a bell:

  • Cognitive strategies: These are rational messages that appeal to cognitive sensibilities. The 4×4 wagon gets you safely through the snow. The diapers are affordable but still keep the baby dry. Great taste, just 5 calories.

  • Affective strategies: These are your heart, by textbook marketing definition. They play on your emotions, they associate feelings, they hit the heart before the head. More of these to come.

  • Conative strategies: Finally, the push to purchase. Buy one get one free. Sales ends Sunday. Black Friday!

The Hierarchy of Effects Model parallels those three in that order with the buyer’s journey from awareness to purchase. Like this:

BronHiggs, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Now forget it. People aren’t linear like that.

Start at the heart. It’s conveniently in the middle (well, you know, just a bit to the left). Then work your way out.

The Ads that Prove It

Are they cognitive, affective, or conative? You don’t need to know what they’re saying to get an idea of what’s up.

Australia – New Zealand:

Vernacular, witty, and very blokey? What does it tell us about ANZAC?

Hong Kong: HSBC Hong Kong

Goofy, cute, and then money. What does it tell us about Hong Kong?

India: Apple India

Colorful, idealized, musical, a high-status foreign product that costs about 25% of the average annual income in the country. What does it tell us about India?

Japan: biohazard

Animated, another world, a video game. And Japan?

Malaysia: Panasonic Malaysia

Girl group, multilingual and multiracial, and then, some Chinese New Year. And Malaysia?

Singapore: Lenovo

New electronic gadget, no natural light, no people. Hmm, Singapore?

Thailand: 7ElevenThailand

It’s a mini movie! Light-skinned youth, loyalty, service, and melodrama. Thailand?

Vietnam: Samsung Vietnam

More light skin, candy-coated imagery, family, lots of fireworks. Vietnam?

What Do These Excellent Localized Campaigns Have in Common?

Other than perhaps the Taiwan ad, and the bits at the end of a few of these, there is very little cognitive or conative. Even the Korean ad (now removed as it seems to have expired), which is a rehash of the formulaic pretty woman + product, evokes the emotions of winter and associates a soju buzz with attractive company and warmth.

All these ads, apart from Taiwan, have affective at their core. Even the Singapore one delivers the rush of a newly acquired gadget. The epic Thai ad is one long tribute to a range of emotions the Thai people value, or at least that they like to project to one another and the public.

Most of these are also local divisions of multinationals. Apple India feels like an Apple ad, but the pace, color, and vibrancy feel like India. The Samsung Vietnam ad would be too under-produced and choppy to float in Korea, but the idealized and sugary images work well in young and ambitious Vietnam, as does the family theme.

These ads work in these countries. And they work well.

You can draw your own conclusions, but the key is the heart.

Affective is Effective in Global Marketing and in Localization of Your Marketing

Marketing that fails across cultures most often misses the heart. It appeals to the wrong sensibility. It ignores the cultural mix. It underestimates (or overestimates!) family.

Those misses stem from ad spends guided by the headquarters’ culture. Other misses stem from insufficient customer listening, low-quality advertising even at the source, and poor data, to name a few.

Love or loathe these ads, their popularity speaks to in-tune marketing that nailed the heart of the audience.

Want to localize your website, marketing, and sales with truly global marketing? You don’t need a so-called multicultural marketing agency to do this. But you do need one with lived experience and marketing skills learned through practice. Scize is here to help. Contact us.

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