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The Influencers

Is Global a State Of Mind?

INFLUENCER: In the lead up to Cannes Lions, Richard Carr, MD & Partner at ROTHCO, discusses how ’global’ doesn’t have to mean physical presence

Is Global a State Of Mind?

In an isolated valley in rural Wales there is a denim factory employing dozens of local people. What makes Hiut Denim special, besides its great jeans, is that despite its location and small size it exports to consumers around the world. Without an army of salesmen, massive distribution networks or international ad campaigns its founders have built a very desirable brand with Facebook and other platforms. This would have been pretty much impossible 20 years ago.

Many years ago, I worked for a global agency network and the pitch deck always started with the same slide that stated: “We have more people in more offices in more countries around the globe than any other Network”. It was their biggest selling point. But feels rather quaint now. It’s like going to war on horseback.  

The definition of ‘global’ in advertising is changing. Lately I’ve been asking myself, is global becoming a state of mind, as well as a physical one?

There’s several reasons why I think ‘yes’. 

When the global recession reached Dublin in 2008, agencies were hit very hard. Rather than cutting back on staff we decided to do something at ROTHCO that required a complete mind shift. We decided to look at the world as our marketplace. We looked to prove that we were capable of producing international work for Heineken, which led to us getting noticed by Asia Pacific Breweries who in turn appointed us to the global Tiger beer account. Subsequently this led to us being appointed by Hailo for their global launch and from there our international footprint continued to rise. Today a large proportion of our turnover comes from work created in Dublin that runs in markets way beyond our shores. 

Our Dublin location has never stopped us from working with international clients and whilst there are some obvious benefits to having local bases, we believe that strong creative ideas, smart use of technology and a deep understanding of the consumer can cross seas and transcend language and culture. 

It can’t be denied that local offices are extremely useful for building media relations and face-to-face relationships with local partners. And while we do spend considerable time with our clients outside Ireland, we’ve found that you don’t have to physically be in a place to understand the zeitgeist. 

When it comes to working with international clients, it’s not just about overcoming the barriers that exist, it’s also about offering a service that appeals to those clients. They often tell us that the reason they would seek an agency from another country is because they want to be asked questions that local agencies don’t think to ask. Clients want agencies to be relentless in the quest for knowledge about their brands. Sometimes an outside perspective – in all senses of the word – can produce the most powerful insights. 

Most recently we have created stories for Heineken Light in multiple markets; White Claw Hard Seltzer in the US; AON in the US; Heineken’s ciders in markets around the world and we are incredibly fortunate that today’s era of technology provides us with the resources to take that approach. I’m the first to admit that without Skype, WeTransfer, Facebook, Google Drive, In Vision etc., being an international agency with one office would have been impossible 20 years ago. However, while pretty much any business can now be global it requires the single-minded belief in your capabilities to actually do it.

This month, people from all over the world will descend on the South of France to evaluate their work on a world stage. Still very much a physical event, the purpose of Cannes Lions has changed dramatically over the past decade and is perhaps more diverse than ever. Pre-internet, Cannes was a place to view work from other countries and network with people you wouldn’t come in to contact with elsewhere. Now the scope for understanding creative trends, tech and communication; meeting peers and clients and seeing how ‘global’ work is spread across the world both physically and mentally is incredibly exciting. The global state of mind will be truly present here and it is one event we think, physically, should not be missed!



Richard Carr is MD & Partner at ROTHCO

ROTHCO will be on stage at Cannes Lions with banking client AIB. Their creative Inspiration seminar ‘If you love something set it free’ will be held in the Debussy Theatre at 13:00 on Sat 17th June.