Editor’s excuse: Let me be frank; mistakes were made. In my defense I think that the misunderstanding proves my main point — i.e., this Pizza Hut ad campaign is very much aimed at consumers in Japan. However, according to my Japanese authority whose credentials are that she grew up in Tokyo and is Japanese, the concept is based on a well-known Japanese idiom, “I’m so busy there are not enough hours in a day. I’d even ask a cat to lend me a hand.” Neko no te mo karetai. Of course, cats are notorious for not doing your bidding. You know the American saying: “Dogs have owners; cats have staff.” Another translation error is that “Pizza Boss” Tencho was born on a riverbank, not under a bridge, and he wasn’t adopted by a poor loving family, but is now part of a poor but loving family. My authority also advised me that as a rule, advertising marketing messages in Japan are less direct than in the U.S., and the Pizza Cat-o commercials are very well conceived, very funny, and everyone in Japan gets it. Below is the post as I first wrote it:
“Aim global, market local” is probably this Japanese Pizza Hut campaign’s takeaway lesson to ad creatives everywhere. Those of us outside of Japan find that not only is the text in a foreign language, so is the humor. Cats dressed in Pizza Hut uniforms are cute, but the link to pizza is baffling. The cats in the commercials were not given people-like traits nor were their movements animated with motion graphics. They just did catlike things, and mostly seemed bored and oblivious to being in a pizza kitchen.
Naming is a discipline that strikes many as part voodoo, part marketing strategy, and totally mysterious. We suspect it was easier a century or so ago when founders named the brand after themselves — e.g., Ford (Henry Ford) and Wells Fargo (Henry Wells and William Fargo) – or simply described what they made – e.g., International Business Machines (IBM). Now, it is not so easy, and companies usually turn to professional naming firms to come up with effective memorable brand names that will resonate with consumers. On top of that, they have to make sure the name can be trademarked, pronounced easily, have positive connotations around the globe, and stand out on a retail shelf, on a website and on its own. Here are some tips from David Placek, founder and president of Lexicon Branding, the firm that developed the familiar names you see below.
1. A Brief for the Development of a Name Is Different
Than a Brief for an Advertising Campaign.
(1) A naming brief makes sure that distinctiveness is a primary goal and that risk will be rewarded.
(2) A naming brief answers this fundamental question: How can the name help this new brand to become a winner?
(3) A naming brief defines a specific role for the name rather than the product itself, messaging or design.
(4) A naming brief tells the story of the brand so that the brand name becomes an essential part of the story — better yet, the title.
At first glance, the new Nescafe logo does not look significantly different from the old logo. The typeface is still in all caps but more rounded, a crossbar still extends from the “N”, an accent still hovers over the “e”, and red is still a dominant color. And yet, it feels more contemporary, more capable of competing cup-to-cup in a Starbucks world.
When introduced by Nestle in 1938, Nescafe (Nestle + café) instant coffee was the height of modern convenience. Even today, Nescafe remains one of the world’s most distributed brands of instant coffee, sold in over 180 countries. But until recently, Nescafe had no single global identity; each region was allowed to interpret the brand elements for their own market. Increasingly, however, young consumers have come to think of Nescafe as the passé powdered drink found in their grandparents’ pantry. The brand looked tired and disjointed.
Old Spice men’s fragrances has a new executive marketing director, and he’s a real wolf. This commercial made by Wieden + Kennedy proves that the global ad agency is having far too much fun to call it working. It’s interesting that unlike most men’s scent ads, there is no real plug for how sexy and desirable the product will make you. No, women in cleavage-revealing gowns running their red fingernails teasingly over the man’s firm unshaven jaw. No hint of pheromones wafting through the air, leading women like Barbie doll zombies in search of the source. No, these ads are snarky and tongue-in-cheek funny. And like an increasing number of marketing campaigns, they don’t stop with one ad. Wolfdog has his own website/blog, Twitter account, homework “service,” and Call of Duty game. Will it make men rush out to buy the product? Don’t know, but it will raise awareness of Old Spice and get people talking.
Corporate mar-com managers, ad agencies and designers talk endlessly about “their brand” — building a brand, protecting a brand, creating brand distinctions, proving brand integrity, winning brand loyalty, etc.
The world’s top brands will attract consumers who trust that any products that bear their name and logo is reputable, and they will aggressively pursue any entity that tries to knock-off or pirate their brand or in anyway damage their brand’s reputation or steal their market through misleading lookalikes. That is why NBA superstar Michael Jordan recently sued Chinese sportswear and shoe manufacturer Quiodan (the way Jordan is pronounced in Chinese) for using his name and playing number without authorization. Jordan makes a compelling case for why this isn’t simply about the misuse of his name but about infringing on the proprietary rights of a respected global brand.
Extending a brand into global markets isn’t a straightforward process. Product makers have to consider all kinds of cultural and language barriers. Can the letterforms be read? Can the name be pronounced? Does it have a pleasing or harsh sound when spoken? Does the name mean something else in another language? (An example is the famous case of the Chevy Nova, which in Mexico translates to “doesn’t go.”) Then there is the challenge of trying to maintain some graphic consistency so the brand is truly global and not the same product that looks different in every regional market.
Consider how Carlsberg Beer and Coca-Cola graphically translated their logotypes into multiple languages, for example. LogoDesignLove brought the Carlsberg comparisons to our attention. With Carlsberg, note the way that the designers tried to carry over the signature style of the brand — the flat-top squared-off “C,” tri-leaf accent pattern, the swash decorative flourish under the type, the brushstroke-like serif on the last “r.” Although the letterforms differ dramatically from language to language, the various logotypes have a family look that suggests their roots stem from the original Danish Carlsberg logo.