By Jessica DeLoach
Today we met with the giants of Belgian public relations and advertising. Between Ogilvy and Saatchi & Saatchi, both international advertising companies, our team was exposed to the European version of reputation management for several multinational corporations. With similar yet conflicting views from each leader of the firms, we saw deep into the cultural implications that affect the multicultural region of the European nations.
With David Ogilvy being one of the key figures for a character in the hit series Mad Men, the Ogilvy PR group international is seen as a go-to group for improving outcomes for multiple well-known global corporations. According to Ann Maes, the leader of Ogilvy PR, the purpose of a public relations or advertising corporation is to meet the following criteria:
“If Ogilvy is to be gorgeous, wonderful, brilliant, fabulous, magical, beautiful, big and sexy, we must first be brave, idealistic, curious, playful, candid, intuitive, free-spirited, and persistent.” David Ogilvy
With an open dialogue conversation in an impressively creative and chic meeting room of stark black and white contrast with red accents, Ann further told us what Ogilvy is all about. The firm is known for their creativity and professionalism within the creative realm. One of the quotes on their wall was “create or else.” The Ogilvy firm takes seriously what they do, yet have the personality of one of your best friends, relaxed, open, and sometimes surprising.
I found it interesting that when asked about qualification for potential hires, Ann noted personality as one of the key factors to individuals’ likelihood to fit in. Ogilvy hires must be, above all, passionate. Professional qualifications are looked at, but mostly the Ogilvy team looks for someone who does not back down, someone who listens well to clients and gives them what they need in a strong, direct manner. The being said outright was refreshingly different than what you sometimes hear from hiring managers in the United States PR world.
Saatchi & Saatchi’s CEO, Yves Van Landeghem, was slightly different than the leaders at Ogilvy. Perhaps due to his background in strategy leadership, which is slightly more direct about financials and end goals and seeks long term results outside of a typical PR campaign. Yves was all about the message of a campaign. He stated “if no one is interested in a dialogue if you do not have an interesting monologue to begin with,” basically saying that no one will interact, be amused by, or purchase a product if there is no great message from the brand.
One of the items that Yves really focused on was the fact that a brand must stay true to the original “message” across platforms, including culture, age, language, etc. Many times, we have heard of brands altering their entire campaigns in different countries or cultures to potentially attract different crowds in different manners, which can provd very expensive over time. He reiterated the importance of keeping the message true and consistent, but perhaps changing the way you speak when conveying the brand’s message.
Yves showed us multiple clips of advertising gone right and advertising gone wrong, some on an international scale, and some that just were not created to affectively target a specific market. Many were examples that fit very well in most markets, but for one particular language translation mistake or incorrect estimation of a culture did not fly within a particular market. Yves also stressed the importance of personalizing your message; instead of advertising to the masses or a particular demographic, pretend as though it is your wife, child, or closest friend. He gave three general rules for today’s advertising campaigns:
1. The old cases don’t seem to fit.
2. Consumers don’t behave like dumb targets.
3. People are not rational beings.
When advertisers keep this in mind and always seek new, creative solutions to marketing problems, they will succeed. In fact, Yves mentioned that sometimes new eyes, when considering a team member to work on a campaign, on a particular topic or industry can be the best set of eyes due to the newness of the campaign. He liked the generalists who can work on anything from the auto to food industry without skipping a beat.
From both Ogilvy and Saatchi & Saatchi, we learned that creativity is a very sought after expertise. Clients from Nike to the European government rely on corporations like the two we visited to come up with the most interesting ways to reach masses. There are no set formulas anymore for how to manage a campaign, so these agencies are required to think outside of the box. It is also just as important to have new exciting experiences outside of work to bring to the working environment. As Ann said, get a life and have an opinion. Both are vital for success in the advertising realm.