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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Captain America vs Harry Potter

If you believe in the super powers of each of these two current stars of screen - then this would be an interesting match up - Super Human Muscles and Strength (combined with Shield  of valor and devastation) vs “Superhero Expelliarmus”.
As things stand Cap’n America has just overtaken the little wizard at the top of the Weekly Box Office charts but still lags way behind the bespectacled magician’s total receipts (and will remain so - so say all the experts because Captain America’s appeal is likely to be US based).
For me though, the two offer a (handily timely) chance for a quirky look at the way that Globalization works in the sporting world.....

Sporting clubs (with the prime focus on the larger ones) are increasingly looking at the ‘globe’ as their marketplace.  They see the huge revenues possible (in theory) from targeting the population of the world (6bn) rather than the population of their home city (Manchester - 1/2m) or their home country (USa = 1/2bn or UK = 60m).
The advance of modern technology, the rapid spread of sports brands around the world, and the growth of sports as the first choice entertainment for a huge number of the global populace do indeed provide great opportunities for sports clubs to increase their revenues from new (and previously unthoughtof market places).
Hence we see Manchester United shops opening up in New York, we see Vietnamese children wearing Real Madrid Ronaldo shirts, and we see China swamped with NBA produce/imagery/future ideas.  There are MANY more examples...  and every team and league (even some of the smaller ones)  wants a slice of the action.
However it’s not as simple as it seems.  It’s not enough to just want it, to put your brand out there and to expect the income to come rolling in........  It’s wrong to believe that works for you here will work for you elsewhere in the world...... Think of all the famous examples of new car launches where the brand name in English speaking world translated into something derogatory in the Spanish / other speaking world........  Fail to understand the local cultures, the local nuances and you will fail / echouer / fallar / vum scheiterm / etc
Having just travelled the world - picking up examples of different cultures along the way - I have first hand knowledge of how some Western cultures are VERY wrong when it comes to promoting a sports brand in a foreign land.  But there are examples that are far closer to home - and show that there is still a long way to go before clubs will deliver the globalization they want......
For me, the key is to make sure you understand the new market you are heading into, to understand the cultures that work out there, to fully buy into what makes the people tick.
Whilst ‘on the road’ I was in discussion with a very high profile American football team about some work we may do together.  As part of the process, we had to speak on the phone........  This high profile (they have won the Superbowl in recent times) team had to ask me to call them - as they did not know how to speak to me overseas!!!!!.... this was the Sales staff and also the IT staff (#smacksheadindesperation!).  
Guys.....  If you want to drive income streams overseas, you need to at least show willing to understand how to use the telephone overseas.....  You need to buy into the culture of your target market place......
There is an inherent belief in all teams (I am not just picking on the US here) that “we are successful because of what we do, therefore we need to show these new market places what WE do”.....  And this belief will restrict how successful you can be...  Learn about your new market place / recruit some local staff / tweak (or drastically change) the way you do things and implement a strategy that works for your new marketplace - and shows respect to the country and its culture - the return will likely deliver (and more) on your expectations.
So if you want to clean up on a global scale - put Captain America back and ask Harry for some advice.

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