Multinational marketers often are torn between making ads global and making them local. Intel Corp. wants the best of both worlds.
In a campaign launched in eight countries this week, the Santa Clara, Calif., chipmaker shows combinations of six celebrities sitting on the laps of ordinary laptop-computer users. Intel relied on a mix of intuition and market research to settle on six figures who are relevant in markets all over the world, said Sean Connolly, Intel's global advertising manager.
Yet one of the stars -- Hong Kong actor Tony Leung, speaking Chinese and appearing in tandem with two of the other celebrities -- is featured only in the spots destined for China.
"We found that if people were able to place one or two of the celebrities, they caught on to the concept pretty well," Connolly said.
The company chose actors John Cleese and Lucy Liu, singer Seal, pro skateboarder Tony Hawk, soccer star Michael Owen and Leung, who was the only celebrity to film his segment in a language other than English. In the United States, trios of the six (except for Leung) will run as spots in various media. Around the world, the voices will be dubbed into the languages of the local markets, a common industry practice for global ads.
The campaign, made by Interpublic Group's McCann Worldgroup, is Intel's answer to a problem that has long vexed big marketers: Should advertising be local, global or somewhere in between? Companies such as McDonald's Corp. and Procter & Gamble Co. use local and pan-regional techniques in international markets to push consumer products. Coca-Cola Co. has swung back and forth between local and global ads.
Intel's double-duty approach is an unusual departure for technology companies, which tend to rely on a single global campaign designed to unify the messages seen by travelers, Web surfers and company employees. In fact, for Intel, using any celebrity at all in advertising is a new foray and is part of a broader strategic shift toward consumers made by the company's new chief marketing officer, Eric Kim, the former head of marketing for South Korea's Samsung Electronics.
The global versus local decision frequently is driven by budgets.
Concerned about return on investment, marketers like Nokia Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. have recently shifted to global campaigns with some local tweaks, because the lead ad agency achieves economies of scale. But the one-size-fits-all approach can be problematic in Asia and other important developing markets, where ads that don't make sense across cultures can translate into bad business. So Intel sought a global cast of characters for its new ads and added a little special something for the huge Chinese market.
Intel plans to roll out additional local personalities for markets such as France, Italy and South Korea in TV, online and print extensions of the campaign.
Leung's selection shows how much Asian markets have changed since Japanese ad agencies famously hired washed-up Western celebrities to pitch products in the 1980s. Now, Asian customers want to see Asian heroes.