Missing the mark with local marketing

In the aftermath of the Magnum marketing snafu in Manchester earlier this month, marketeers have had a stark reminder that context is king when it comes to launching a local marketing campaign.

The ice cream company created a giant billboard in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens with the line “The only thing that can make lying on Piccadilly Gardens even better.” However, every Manchester resident and visitor knows that Piccadilly Gardens is somewhat light on relaxing green space and is more of a concrete jungle, notorious for drug use, crime and anti-social behaviour.

While the advert did spark a great deal of conversation, it was predominantly from those mocking the brand for being so out of touch with the area in which they were advertising. One resident commented “the only time you would lie down in Piccadilly Gardens is if you’ve been stabbed” with someone else tweeting “tell us you’ve never been to Manchester without telling us you haven’t been.”

Many companies miss the mark when their targeted activity lacks specific market context. Companies must conduct detailed research into the cultural and political factors to understand the zeitgeist they are trying to tap into, and nothing can beat real, local market knowledge in this regard.

And this is not a new problem. It has been going for many years, with some of the biggest brands getting it wrong. When Mercedes Benz tried to introduce their cars to the Chinese market under the name “Bensi”, they were slow to realise that in Chinese this meant “rush to die”. Not quite the image they were going for!

Telecom giant Orange also demonstrated they were woefully out of touch when they launched their slogan “The future’s bright… the future’s Orange” in Northern Ireland in 1994. Obviously here the colour orange had strong associates with the protestant organisation called The Orange Order and therefore was hugely divisive and completely insensitive to what was happening in the local market.

A recent study from Nieman Journalism Lab found that content which is locally targeted has six times more engagement than posts designed for the global market, while the latest research from Appia, found 86% of localised campaigns outperformed national campaigns in both click-throughs and conversion rates. This means that now more than ever, understanding local markets is the key to unlocking success.

I joined PHA as Director of Regions last year to capitalise on the opportunity which real regional knowledge offered to the agency and to our clients. As a Manchester native myself, my priority was opening a hub office in the city. From there we now also have a presence in Leeds and Wokingham, with more regional offices in the pipeline. This means we have the knowledge, experience, and contacts of a national agency with a deep regional understanding.

So, if you would like some advice on how to ensure your upcoming campaigns will have real impact in regional markets, please do get in touch with PHA.

And a top tip for brands trying to reach those chilling in local parks and gardens…it’s always worth making sure they don’t also double as a crime hub!

Get in touch with the team