The advertising agencies play a very critical role in international advertising. It is therefore important that proper care is taken-by the advertiser in selecting the agency for handling international advertising. It is often supposed that overseas advertising can be handled directly by the advertising agency employed in the home country. It is often a -risky supposition because the home country agency is unlikely to have an insight into the nuances of socio-economic and cultural variations, as discussed earlier in this unit. In the absence of such an insight, the creative work may be ineffective or even counter productive. It is therefore important that the creative work for overseas advertising is carried out by the best available local advertising agent who will be sensitive to the local culture, semantics, habits and attitudes. There are numerous examples of failure of overseas advertising prepared without the adequate knowledge
and understanding of the cultural milieu of the country concerned.
There are many multinational advertising agencies, mostly based in the U.S. which have set up worldwide network of agencies through equity or non-equity collaboration, acquisition and mergers or direct investment. Table below gives the list of top 25 individual agencies (agency “brands) ranked by worldwide gross income in 2001.
Selection of advertising agency for overseas advertising should be made carefully. In may cases there are variations among the agencies in their specialisation and organisational capability and expertise. Following are some guidelines for selection of advertising agencies.
Size of the agency – Firstly, the size of the agency and its network of international affiliations should be considered. Often large agencies do not pay adequate attention to the small-budget clients. It is therefore advisable to select an agency whose size is compatible with that of the advertiser’s budget and preferably sufficiently small but efficient to regard the budget as important.
Expertise of the agency-Secondly, the expertise of the agency should be assessed carefully specially in the area of creativity and media planning. Some agencies will have more comprehensive and up-to-date media database in respect of foreign countries.
Thirdly, informal consultation, where possible, with the past and existing clients of the candidate agencies might be helpful in selection. These are some general guidelines for the selection of advertising agencies for international advertising. These are applicable whether a home agency with international affiliations or a multinational agency or a foreign country-based local agency is selected.
PLANNING TECHNIQUES: That particular advertising agency has to acquire excellent planning techniques. Answers to the following questions should be known: do they know how to plan a campaign effectively? For example; do they provide an effective time- line for developing a campaign on the international market? Do they consider alternative strategies? Do they have contingency plans?
OBJECTIVES: Do they focus on your primary objectives as a client (company)? Do they know how to assess the effectiveness of advertising so as to be able to determine whether the advertising is meeting these objectives? What are the measurable outcomes and what level of success might be expected on each? Will they provide any guarantee on the success of the campaign? Is their own compensation tied into your success? If yes, how many percent? The objectives of the international advertising agency must be greatly considered by the client before choosing it.
TARGET MARKET RESEARCH: If it is necessary to obtain additional information about the target market, do they know how to design and evaluate such studies so that they will effectively relate to the advertising campaign? Do they know how to effectively use survey research methods? An examination of their prior report might be useful here.
CREATIVITY TECHNIQUES: What techniques and procedures do they use to enhance creativity? For example; when they say that they used brainstorming, does this merely mean that a group of people sat around and tossed out ideas, or does it mean that they actually followed a highly structured brainstorming procedure? It is difficult to judge the creativity of a given idea, but much evidence exists to show that structured creativity techniques are superior to unstructured group process.
PERSUASION RESEARCH: Are they familiar with the extensive research findings on how to persuade people? If yes, how do they ensure that this research is brought to bear on the advertising campaign? Do they have good grounds for violating this research? For example; research on the specific product may show that it is an exception from the general principles. That particular international advertising agency should be able to understand consumer behavior in order for them to use the right persuasive strategies at the right time to gain new customers and also r\to retain the old customers.
TASTE/ LEGAL/ ETHICAL GUIDELINES: What procedures does the agency take to protect your company from causing offensive to interest groups, from boycotts, or from legal or ethical consequences? For example; do they have a formal review board that has legal expertise and that recognizes the interests of groups that might be affected? Do they have a written code of ethics that they formally apply to each campaign? There are three themes underlying the above list. The first is that, it is easier for an advertiser to evaluate the procedures that an agency uses than to judge the ads themselves. Along with this is the assumption that there are many proven procedures for developing an international advertising campaign. Second, much research- based knowledge exists on how to effectively persuade people. And third, it is important to do research for a proposed international campaign. The latter would cover target, market research, copy testing, media evaluation, and ways to monitor the success of that particular international campaign.
A company’s quest to choose an international advertising agency for an effective and successful advertisement would have to take all these factors into consideration before doing so. For international advertising, acquisition of new customers and retention of old customers across borders is very important.