I had two bosses in my office in Tokyo. One of them was a Scottish lady who used to be a Creative Director at a big international ad agency in UK, and the other was a Japanese man who used to be a top executive at a huge Japanese ad agency. They were both amazing professionals with proven records in making small & big clients successful. The same industry, but their thought processes were completely different. Imagine what it was like to work with them at the same time.

I often got stuck in between two different philosophies about marketing. SHE believed in scientific approach but HE believed in intuitive ideas. SHE believed in consistent brand positioning and HE believed in tag lines and ad copies that kept changing. SHE believed in “Less is More” but HE believed in “More is More.” SHE believed in global consistency but HE was fighting for local tastes. SHE said to me all the time “NO more new advertsisements. Keep digging the key messages.”  HE always believed in fancy print media. They fiercely argued over the phone all the time.

I am not saying who was right or wrong in here. In fact, they were both right. I learned a lot working with both of them on the same projects. The importance of digging into the core of brand attributes. Scientific approach is of course important but sometimes you need to follow your cultural intuition.

This McDonald’s ad is one of my all time favorite ones in Japan,  and every time I see this, it reminds me of many things I learned from my bosses from two different cultures. While maintaining McDonald’s global brand, this is truly localized for the Japanese audience. This piece really proves that two different approaches can be merged, in order to be really effective in a different market.  In my future postings, I want to explore more thoughts about differences in marketing approaches in Japan and U.S..  (Disclaimer: I was not involved with this ad of course. I just watched on TV two years ago, and I am still “LOVING IT!”)

Reading: Ronald McDonald gets make over: Media Guardian (rather old article though. year 2005):

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