Monday, 5 March 2012

Emigrant Brands

It's 16 years since I came to Germany and I still remember the first few weeks well - getting used to Apfelwein, carrying wads of cash around 'cos credit cards were (still are) the work of the devil and remembering that any attempt to buy as much as a bag of sugar after 1pm on at least three Saturdays in the month would end in tears.

But I also remember the wonderful feeling of freedom I had in how I presented myself at work. I was something exotic, a rarity, as an Inselaffe - and I had more-or-less free reign to be what I wanted to be. There was no history, no consistency that I had to uphold.

In a way, it's the same for brands that move into markets beyond their home one. They can have a clean sheet. Of course, their provenance can be played on if that's going to add anything, but it's not compulsory.

A great example for me is T-Mobile. The advertising for this brand here in its home country is so-so, the shadow of the Deutsche Bundespost Telekom of the past still present, a conscious or subconscious restraint. The tariffs have silly names like Call & Surf Relax Super-Comfort XXL.

Compare that to what T-Mobile does in the UK. The Royal Wedding spoof from last year or the latest "Full Monty" spot, full not just with Montys but giant rolling cheeses, fake-tanned cheeses and cheeky chappie humour in a Blackcurrant Tango-style celebration of all that's Bonkers British.

Maybe we should consider this particular "what if?" more often: what if our brand was advertising in a country where it has no history?

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