Cross-culture advertising:

  • January 2024
  • Jordi Wisse
  • featured

Why McDonalds’ Mexican McAloo Tikki Patty holds lessons for B2B.

We know consumers prefer advertising that reflects their local culture and native language.

But when your brand operates across several markets, how can you speak to local consumers without losing global appeal?

This month we’re sharing insights on cross-culture advertising.

Consumers love to feel seen, and they feel seen when ads are tailored to their culture — especially when they celebrate marginalised experiences.

76%[1] of us would rather buy products advertised in our native language. And it goes beyond words. For local brands with strong heritage, this is a no-brainer. But how can you speak to everybody’s culture when you’re a global brand?

Do it like a local.

A smaller target market often inspires sharper ideas. The most successful brands put the customer and their culture first.

  • Nike spotlights athletes from diverse and marginalised cultures, most recently the trans community.
  • Coca-Cola became an integral part of Chinese New Year thanks to their 2009 First Coke of The Year campaign.
  • McDonald’s goes a step further, adapting its menu around the world, with Poland’s McMuffin Cottage Cheese with Radish, the boldly cross-cultural Mexican McAloo Tikki Patty in India, and the McSpaghetti from the Philippines. (McDonalds Italy would slap that snack out of your hands.)

But what do you do if you’re not a global brand like these behemoths, but neither are you a local brand with local knowledge?

As a creative agency we pride ourselves in finding sustainable ideas, so here are three tips for achieving that Mexican McAloo Tikki touch.

1. Diverse visual concepts

We stay alert to any clues in the visuals we use that might ring untrue with an audience. From the adoption rate of technology to popular brands, fashion, body language… everything we depict is influenced by our culture. We work hard to ensure that customers feel authentically reflected in the visuals we use to communicate with them.

2. Seasonal considerations

As an agency with branches in Europe, the U.K. and Australia, we see how differently we experience our seasons. A Euro-centric Christmas-related campaign features snow, fairy lights, knitwear and gingerbread, while our Australian colleagues see Christmas as barbecues on the beach. It’s not just weather – the differences impact the language we use, the visuals and the tone of messaging.

3. Tagline

Brains has learned that when you don’t have the budget to localise, our number one tip is always to pay extra attention to the tagline. Make sure it translates into most languages without losing its meaning and charm or somehow becoming accidentally offensive.

If you fancy a chat about any of this, get in touch. Brains is a worldwide organisation; there’s always someone up to talk to you.

[1] CSA Research polled 8,709 consumers from twenty-nine countries.