The fallacy of using local talent
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday August 30, 2011 - It’s an old canard...”you must use local people in your ads.”
And sure, we’ve been criticised in one island for using actors and models from another; for example, Grenadians swear they can tell if we use Antiguan faces, and so on. The same goes for voices. We have come to assume it’s bad for the ad campaigns.
”Foreign TV ads and shows are hugely influential on consumer behaviour.”--Greg HoyosThe truth is, consumers don’t know what makes a good or bad ad; they only know what they like, and it’s often something superficial such as, “it made me laugh.” So, when asked to be experts, consumers often pick on peripheral things like the models’ faces. (By the way, liking or disliking an ad has very little impact on its effectiveness. But that’s a different issue.)
Today’s consumers are sophisticated enough to filter the content they see, and accept or reject it based on many things, but not on skin colour or accent. (I’m sure that some of the objections people raise are simply Caribbean inter-island jealousies.)
The entire Caribbean is saturated with raw, uncut foreign television 24/7. We’ve grown up, we’ve gotten over the colour issue (never mind the ranting of the odd politician looking for cheap points). And we like the shows - and the ads - we see.
Based on social buzz, foreign TV ads and shows are hugely influential on consumer behaviour even though few contain Caribbean faces or voices. The Caribbean isn't the only part of the world using foreign ads to good effect: For example, in France some brands deliberately leave their ads and slogans in English, to lend them an “international” feel.
Before we automatically knock ourselves out, trying to re-make ads for the “local market,” let’s think again. If the strategy is sound and the content is good, let’s use the ads as they are; the local market is sophisticated enough to relate and respond.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Greg Hoyos. Greg Hoyos is the principal of GHA DDB headquartered in Barbados.