Skip to content
The Tension Between Global and Local Marketing

May 10, 2022


The Tension Between Global and Local Marketing

If you’ve worked in marketing, then you know about global vs. local. There’s a tension between what“global” wants to do and what the satellite offices think they should do.

If you’ve worked both, then you’ve seen both sides of the coin. You hear all the complaints in global, about this country ignoring the strategy, producing their own campaign, and interpreting the global strategy into their own.

And if you’ve worked at the country offices, you’ve seen the flip, and you can start to understand why. Global advises “the big picture,” rooted in the lead or home country office’s backyard…and where the life cycle of the category and brand may be at. At the local level, global may just seem out of touch for a hundred reasons and it can be frustrating. 

There is a solution here, one that lets global and local country regional offices play to their strengths. We can look to the popular environmentalist slogan “think global, act local” to help us figure it out.

Think Global: The Big Picture

The global head office is usually responsible for what we’ll call the “big picture” strategy. The problem is the global team is then asked/required to take that strategy and create campaigns with it that may work for the home country’s category, competitor or brand life cycle, or culture. They hire the ad agency; they hire the partners to create the marketing materials. And they do it because often, they have big budgets and some accountability for home or head office sales.

Act Local: The Devil Is in the Details

The thing is, the local marketers often aren’t wrong. We are on the front lines of any specific area, and that means we are looking at things with the zoom turned way, way up. We may not see the “whole picture” like they are at global. But we are pointing to a very specific part of the picture and saying, “This. This right here.” 

This is where the “act local” comes in. So many local regions can’t use the global campaign because it doesn’t account for local differences. And we see that where cultural expectations are vastly different. The Japan team has unique needs while London maybe is making strategic decisions for them.

“Think Global, Act Local”

Thinking this way doesn’t just relieve tension but it ensures that local marketers with their finger on the pulse can deliver to the global strategy in the most effective way that their brand, market, culture can be. It ensures that local doesn’t have to run campaigns that they know are wrong and try to justify missed sales deliverables. Global and regional if set up right, can guide and share their panoramic view of all markets and lessons learned to champion more global wins locally. 

It should be the roadmap of how to create and develop a strong competitive brand from the stage of growth in the market.

The “why” should be the same globally but the “what” and even the “who” might be different depending on where a brand is in its life cycle, competitive set…. cultural differences. Global should be responsible to guide the “why” and helping champion the brand story so that all consumers globally feel that brand’s difference. 

No matter if we’re working globally or locally, we must remember to start with the why!

Connect With Us

We work with companies around the world. Our offices are located in Caledon, Ontario, Canada, minutes from Pearson International Airport.

We post articles, white papers, and videos through social media a few times a week. We aim to inspire. Please follow us at:

click to copy
click to call

365 © 2023 All Rights Reserved

Privacy Policy