Brandingmag Talks to Creative Leaders From Around the World

Every year the Super Bowl seems to be that black hole of attention that sucks in all matter and energy from every corner of the marketing universe. It is broadcast in over 200 countries, and last year it enjoyed total viewership of over 111 million. However, given that all but about two million of those viewers were in North America, what kind of impact does the big game have in the branding world at large. Brandingmag reached out to a few branding and creative and agency leaders from around the world, who shared the view from where they live and work.

How China Views the Super Bowl

Doug Schiff, Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy/Beijing and an expat American, puts the “all important” game into perspective from his perch in the world’s most populous country: “Among the general population, American football is a complete mystery. Football is soccer here and people care about foreign ads even less than they do about local ones, if that’s possible. Within the industry, most don’t understand the importance of the Super Bowl and its status as the Mecca of ad venues.”

How America’s Obsession Plays in the UK, Brazil and New Zealand

In the United Kingdom, the NFL has been sponsoring exhibition games, and that may be paying off for greater international exposure. Kevin Collins, General Manager of MKTG, INC in London notes, “With the manner in which the NFL is currently investing in the market, I do feel that there is a stronger connection growing throughout the UK towards the sport of American Football, which lends itself to more attention to the game & the ads. The recent trend of releasing a brand’s Super Bowl ad before the Super Bowl is also increasing the notice on an international level.”

There’s not much direct exposure to the NFL in Latin America, but that doesn’t mean the Super Bowl doesn’t attract attention. Brazilian-born Renata Florio, Chief Creative Officer of the New York based Wing, works with clients serving the Hispanic market in the U.S. and also with clients throughout Latin America. Of her native Brazil she says that the Super Bowl “gets a lot of notice… Brazil is fond of good advertising, so schools and universities will air the commercials afterwards anyway. It is for sure an event that goes beyond U.S. media.”

Crossing a significant stretch of water to reach New Zealand, you’ll discover that the fans there may simply be rapid about sports, whatever the game. New Zealander Kim Pick, now the Chief Creative Office at RAPP USA, told us, “To understand how New Zealanders view the Super Bowl, first you need to understand how New Zealanders view themselves: As the World Champions of Football… that is, Rugby. While they generally don’t have the slightest clue about how the [American] game is played (“Why did the ref throw down that hanky?” or “What’s with all that padding?”), New Zealanders don’t want to miss out on one of the world’s most watched sporting events. Or the star-spangled halftime entertainment. Or those breathlessly anticipated ads. “

Pick also pointed out that “Most New Zealanders won’t watch the Super Bowl live,  they will catch up on the event later – on the news or online. They’ll find out the winner and the score, but it will be of little meaning. Most likely, their Super Bowl focus will be on the Super Stars, and the Super Numbers.”

The Professional Importance of Keeping up with Super Bowl Ads

Regardless of the popular impressions of the game, all of our international interviewees agreed on one thing: the importance of staying current with Super Bowl creative.  Schiff in Beijing remarked, “It’s hugely important for me to keep up, but more importantly to keep myself entertained and inspired.” He wasn’t so sure, however, about the current level of inspiration available. “I think the level [of creativity] has declined a bit. The whole user-generated approach absolutely proves that its best to leave it to the professionals. Also, I miss great Budweiser ads. Seems they return to the same trough time and time again in recent years, as if they’re advertising to sniggering 9-year-olds.  I’ve got one, and he eats that stuff up.”

Collins in London largely agreed, saying “Despite the fact that many of the spots have turned gimmicky, there are still good insights available for the type of brand positioning we could see throughout the rest of the year. My value equation back to a client would always be: the more I know, the better I can service their needs. That said, I do feel there is a great opportunity for clients to see what not to do.”

Florio, speaking from her perch in New York, but out of her multi-country experience, had the most enthusiastic response to the question of whether or not she, as an international creative, saw value in keeping up with Super Bowl creativity. “Of course, no doubt about that. In addition to being a professional, I am an advertising freak… I even rewind and watch a commercial again if I missed something the first time.”

International Creative Leaders See a World of Creativity Beyond Super Bowl Sunday

The acknowledged professional importance of Super Bowl spots not withstanding, this group of international creative leaders doesn’t necessarily cede any creative ground to the spots that run during the world’s most expensive airtime. We asked them to point to regions of the world where they see the most advertising creativity today.

The best creative is still coming out of London and the U.S.,” according to Ogilvy’s Schiff, “but Australia, New Zealand and Brazil are gaining, and for digital Sweden and Japan are tops, pound for pound… er, kilo for kilo.” Pick, from RAPP New Zealand, agreed in part, adding “It’s a huge generalization, but I’d say that New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Belgium are very strong in integrated and ambient; the U.S. and the UK are powerhouses in TV; Asia is doing beautiful print; and Brazil is very strong in digital.”

Finally, London-based Collins put in a good word for the home team. “I personally think that the UK is producing some of the most evolved creative advertising. There seems to be much more of a willingness to push the envelope and search for new ways to use old mediums for advertising. I value the use of ‘smart’ comedy that resides in much of the advertising landscape here and think there is something to be learned about being much less obvious or in your face with ad humor/narratives.”

Tell Us How You Think Super Bowl Creative Compares to The Best in the World

We’ve talked to creative leaders around the world; now we want to hear from you. Tell us what countries, agencies and brands globally you think are creating the best current work.