Are Your Creatives Culturally Impactful?
By Kevin Hwang
In culturally Chinese societies, you see a deluge of ads emphasize the color red, symbolizing luck and fortune. It is used in advertising by organizations both international and local. Red is no doubt a significant color, but what if it is so overused that it no longer stood out in the marketplace? What is the impact of all red ads then?
Perhaps pairing red with another color will resonate more with your target demographic? Maybe red works better with older generations and a different color resonates with the younger demographic, who have more western influences.
Let’s look at South Africa, Johannesburg is a bustling metropolis with its fair share of traffic, crowds and high-rise buildings. Whereas Cape Town is considered an exotic travel destination surrounded by lush nature.
If you are trying to attract prospects in each city, what are the best ads to show in a busy city vs a laid-back coastal destination? How can you say with certainty whether people living in Johannesburg traveling to the US would prefer an ad portraying Chicago’s skyline or Yosemite’s natural wonders? Maybe an ad of urban exploring might pique the interest of those living in Cape Town more than that of a hiking or surfing theme
Uber is a good example of this with the ads they ran (collectivism vs. individualism) in Brazil, which has generally been viewed as a collective society. But how can we say with absolute certainty and statistical significance that the collective ad will outperform the individualistic ad based on a cultural stereotype? Would the single driver ad resonate stronger with women who value independence and strength more than they do on being a collective society?
One can quickly find themselves down a rabbit hole when tackling these assumptions without knowing where to start or end. However, there is a way to tactfully approach this challenge. While the focus often times has been figuring out how to convey messaging in a culturally appropriate way, the true challenge lies in how to convey that same messaging in a culturally impactful way.
If there was one prevalent notion across any business challenge, it’s that numbers don’t lie. When a roadblock with no resolution is in sight, a data-driven approach to make objective decisions is much more effective than relying on opinionated claims. By employing a “test, don’t guess” methodology, one can quickly ascertain what specifically resonates with your target consumer and will drive future growth.
By experimenting with culturally tailored messaging, color schemes, formats, and backgrounds, one can combine all these insights into highly optimized messages that drive meaningful conversions. This eliminates wasted media spend and time producing concepts that are culturally appropriate but does not influence results.
Leveraging technology to craft culturally impactful ads through analytics and insights means that global companies’ personalized messaging must shift from an opinion-driven to data-driven approach. With the ever-changing needs and desires that come with a new generation, it becomes critically important to challenge past, possibly outdated, cultural assumptions.
Whether they still hold true or if it is time to come up with something revolutionary, the goal of great marketing is to stand out from competitors following the same rules of what is culturally suitable. Figuring out what is culturally appropriate is a milestone that tells you what to incorporate, finding out what is culturally impactful is how you distinguish your messaging in a rousing way to stand out from your competitors.