Festival Intelligence: When communications and culture converge | M&M Global

Festival Intelligence: When communications and culture converge

As business markets become increasingly globalised, the importance of understanding local culture and its influence cannot be underestimated. Being ‘in touch’ with the market they are selling into is adding real value for brands that break down cultural barriers and create common bonds with consumers.

In its ‘Truth About Global Brands’ research, McCann Truth Central revealed that as many as 92% of people believe it is important or extremely important that brands respect local culture.

But while it may be tough to find the social agenda that gives a particular brand the right to influence in order to drive relevance, if all the stars align it’s clear that a combination of the right insight, fit with the brand and timing of deployment is everything.

Looking at the M&M Global Awards 2018 shortlist, there’s a strong trend in brands turning moments of tension into mass cultural moments and using powerful insights to given them a higher purpose.

“We are in a moment of communications in which the most powerful projects are the ones where communications and culture converge,” said Rogério Colantuono, Strategy Director at Grey Group, a judge for this year’s M&M Global Awards. “Some of the cases that stood out the most to me were the ones that truly understood and belonged to the target’s culture. Not only the ideas were so adequate to the target, but media was used with the goal of weaving that idea into the target’s culture and day to day. This means being present in places that not only are natural to the audience, but that truly adds something to their lives. They inspired, empowered them and made them proud.”

Given the global nature of the M&M Global Awards, it’s encouraging to see the powerful and resonant ways that brands are navigating local cultures and tailoring their communications. The majority of ‘culture-focused’ awards entries are dominated by the FMCG sector, while the food & drink and entertainment sectors also executed campaigns that addressed local cultures in new and interesting ways. All of these were centred on strong insights that identified and addressed a cultural tension, embraced local traditions and connected in a meaningful way.

As Colantuono referenced earlier, the role of media is evolving too. While the creative might be addressing the strong insight, it is the use of media and how it seamlessly blends in with consumers’ lifestyles that ensures the message is well received and accepted in society; a combination and variety of old and new media was used across campaigns to provoke thought and change consumer behaviour, with timing and context proving to be everything.

Industry commentator Nigel Hollis, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Kantar Millward Brown, has been exploring the role of culture in driving brand success for many years. In an article published back in 2009 in Research World, he rightly said: “Culture is all-encompassing – global brands need to understand its impact if they want to succeed… The key to global brand success is to win at the local level while realising the advantages offered by global scale.”

He continued: “The rapidity with which brands can now establish a global footprint can distract marketers from the vast differences that still exist between countries and cultures. As globalisation continues, one might expect the challenge posed by local culture to diminish. If people consume the same brands, see the same advertising and surf the same internet, isn’t it inevitable that their preferences will become more similar? But the influence of globalisation, while far-reaching, is working against a similarly powerful force: local culture. And culture may prove to be far more durable than many marketers might expect.”

What might work in one market can’t necessarily be replicated in markets across the world. Understanding consumer preferences and their media habits might seem like a good place to start but the genuinely culturally-connected brands are using media in more useful and natural ways than ever before.  

We put the spotlight on two M&M Global Awards 2018 shortlisted entries, which highlight this trend:

I Don’t Roll on Shabbos | Gillette | MediaCom Connections | Israel

Shortlisted for: Best Campaign led by Ambient / Traditional Media, Best Integrated Campaign, Best Local Execution of a Global Brand, FMCG


Life in Israel’s religious Orthodox community is hard. Despite blistering temperatures that average over 40 and unbearable humidity in the summer, Orthodox Jews are required to wear heavy black suits and hats every day. This makes them more likely to sweat…profusely. This is a particularly big problem on the Sabbath – Judaism’s holiest day that runs from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Orthodox Jews are forbidden from doing anything that’s considered work – from cooking to bathing, even putting on a deodorant!

What they needed was a powerful deodorant that protects them from the start to the end of the Sabbath. As a brand associated with shaving, Orthodox Jewish men are not familiar with Gillette, and religious restrictions mean they’re not exposed to brands in media. The insight laid in the unlikeliest of places: the Bible. Malodour is more than a smelly nuisance: God warns his followers that praying in an area of odour makes your prayer ineffective! Odour distracts your mind and interferes with your intentions. Now that it had God’s blessing Gillette could tell the Orthodox community how to make prayer time less sweaty and more effective.

In a world first, MediaCom recruited Israel’s rabbinical authority – the most influential leaders of Judaism across the country – to get their consent to raise awareness of the forgotten Biblical decree that malodour can affect the effectiveness of prayer. Once the community leaders had advocated stronger deodorant, the agency would use media channels like no one has done before to target the community and physically get Gillette into their hands. This would include branding official Sabbath preparation checklists in the only newspapers read by the target audience and even taking over the siren that sounds just before Sabbath comes in.

Dalda PehleTum – “First Bite to You” | Dalda Cooking Oil | OMD | India

Shortlisted for: Best Campaign led by Media


There is a lot of talk about women empowerment and gender equality in India. It’s evident from the women’s progress in the outside world. However, when it comes to home, many old traditions still prevail. Cooking is the sole responsibility of women in most households. Many International studies like OECD suggest that Indian women spend double the time (13 hours weekly) in the Kitchen vis-à-vis the global average of 6.5 hours weekly. And women have their meal, only after ensuring that everyone else in the family finishes their meals.

Dalda Cooking Oil’s core brand target is women (25-50 years) whose life revolves around her family. To bring about a change and add value in her life, it was important to engage with her eco-system. OMD decided to shake up the entire eco-system around her, her family and the food world. It made each one in her family realise, acknowledge and appreciate the fact that she does not deserve to get left behind at the dinner table.

The Idea: ‘PEHLE TUM’, first bite to you – a unique initiative urging men to offer the first bite of the meal to the women of the house. To get audiences thinking about this concept, it needed a disruptive method of bringing it to their attention. The agency deployed it through a judiciously woven media mix to ensure the message was carried through. Each medium was integrated in such a way that at every step along the media journey, the medium added relevance, weightage and a meaningful layer to the core communication.

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