Going global on a tenth of the budget

Going global on a tenth of the budget

Bouncing back from the brink of collapse, with a marketing budget that had been slashed to almost nothing.

Client: International IT network specialist
Relationship: Mainly via agency
Commissioned by: Agency
Services provided: Analysis, strategy, concept development, creative direction, copywriting, ongoing creative support
Project duration: 1 week leading to 2.5 years

The brief

The industry darling of mainframes, cores and switches, this client was the undisputed innovator who everyone else followed: something like the Apple of the IT infrastructure world. Then, one day, following a fabulously poor bit of consultancy on their business model, the company almost disappeared. The story is well documented.

Gone were the big marketing budgets and the big ad agencies they attracted. Gone was much chance of meeting the next wage bill. The client needed a credible and inexpensive way back into the international market, and they needed it fast.

The approach

IT networks are notoriously complex and troublesome. The client’s big selling point was simple and intuitive networking. That was my strategic start point. The next challenge was the truly global scope of the company’s operations.

The new international campaign they were asking for – on one tenth of their previous budget – needed to work in 23 different languages. Given the lack of money, I decided that ruled out using people imagery – too many different faces and skin tones, leading to huge photography and rights costs. But the ads still needed serious visual impact in a print environment dominated by clichéd corporate imagery and punning headlines.

The method

Words only. No pictures. A single, dynamic block of colour with an irresistible headline and 120 words of informative copy. No wordplay and no idioms; just a neat, engaging, relevant and easily translatable concept. Using bold pinks, blues, greens and yellows, we achieved instant cut through and sky-high recognition rates. And a large and desperately needed hike in sales.

The result

With just one week and a lightweight, demotivated creative team to work with, I guided the agency to the pitch win. And a healthy six-figure budget in year one, which grew into a healthy seven-figure budget before the first annual review, and kept on growing. The copy-only route I devised proved simple to translate into the 23 necessary languages, seamlessly transferable to other offline and online channels, and ran unchanged worldwide for over four years.

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