8 things from 8 years in the USA
Insight | Published 18th September 2018
As we celebrate our 8th birthday in the US, which in dog years marks us somewhere around our 50s, we take a look back at the wonderful things we’ve learned over our tenure here, slightly teary-eyed, but definitely with a warmth usually reserved for long-missed family members.
UK English can often come across as… Australian.
A big learning for any Brit coming over to the US is that we’re often misunderstood and, even more often, we’re confused with Australians. There’s a more serious point here though, localizing to language norms is something we do without fail in non-English-speaking countries, and this should apply to the US too. It’s not simply replacing ‘S’ with ‘Z’ but actually making the effort to understand the ins and outs of the local culture. We have learnt that hiring the right team that share our values is, in fact, the best way to translate our Worldwide growth into reciprocal US growth.
Brands change their strategic direction, state laws change, companies get bought, even your favorite restaurant changes its dress code from time to time. Everything is in constant flux, and the US often takes this to extremes. Once you get comfortable or think that X worked for one, so it’ll work for another, you stop learning. And that is the key to any successful client relationship. Keep learning, keep growing with your clients, keep adapting to make sure you’re offering the most value and the best advice in an ever-changing landscape.
It’s pretty apparent that hammering a phone number in the vain hope of speaking to someone is often futile in today’s plethora of communication channels. Just try phoning Google for this at the extreme. Email, text messages or social media messaging are often the preferred method of communication these days. They are often less invasive and more conducive with people’s busy diaries. As communications adapt, we look for new ways to engage with both our current and new clients.
We’re in this together.
Whether it’s finding the right suppliers, or understanding your client’s requirements, we end up with a team fit for the task, and this often includes some unknown. If you have the right partners, they’ll go the extra mile when things inevitably take a left turn instead of a right, after all, we are producing activation… Nowhere is this more apparent than in the US with complicated labor laws, huge distances and big matrix organizations - meaning almost everything requires ‘the extra mile’. Choose wisely!
Hitting the target.
‘If it isn’t worth doing properly, it isn’t worth doing.’ This feels like it holds more weight in the US. Recently having looked at a campaign where the best option became untenable, we looked at alternatives that seemed to miss the mark somewhat. Having spoken to a few people about the alternative we decided to shelf the idea. Trends, themes, whatever you want to call them, really do move behavior and if you’re not hitting the mark, you’re going to fail.
California isn’t New York.
It may sound crazy to an American reader, but the difference between doing business in let’s say NY and CA, take vastly different approaches. Understanding the nuance of a specific area of the country is key, and this means across accounts, sales, project management; working with builders, creatives and accountants. Every area has little ways of doing things that make them unique and interesting. Doing business over dinner, for example, may require a good knowledge of the best new restaurants in LA, whereas it may be understanding the classic, world-famous establishments in New York. Knowing a good rooftop bar is valuable in any location.
51 of anything is a lot.
In the UK, even across Europe, things are fairly consistent in their approach. A lot of elements of the work we do means that we can spread the services / production across different countries with no real downside (actually, quite a lot of upside!). In the US we’ve had to learn on-the-ground rules and regulations that are specific to each state we work in. Believe it or not, this can sometimes be more complex than working across country borders. This collection of knowledge is invaluable and allows us to make sure we’re creating consistent brand campaigns from the beginning of any project, as we build in the restrictions from the beginning.
Global isn’t easy.
Working across 25 different countries and the US, we have learned that creating a truly global experience program is an interesting challenge to all. Whether it be creative that resonates across such a diverse set of markets, or whether it is a pure logistic challenge. Knowing what will and won’t work is expert experience that we’ve built up from 30 years in Europe and 8 in the US. This knowledge can be invaluable for your next global campaign.