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Glocal is shorthand for the maxim ‘Think global, act local’. This used to be a mantra for international marketers, but in a world of social media this springs up a myriad of complexities. Some of them good, some of them bad, particularly when global platforms filter foreign feedback into the home market. Or foreign campaigns play awkwardly back in home markets due to cultural differences.

For years internet users pirating content have acted as a bridgehead for Japanese anime content, often much to the bemusement of the Japanese themselves. Just this week Japaneses netizens were puzzled by foreign praise heaped up a Japanese remake of My Little Pony.

But this diffusion of local content to an international stage also has a darker side to it. Singapore Tourism Board has been embroiled in a firestorm of criticism at home when a promotional video that was made to encourage visitors from the Philippines came to the attention of Singaporean netizens.

The reaction was so harsh that it the video was covered in The Straits Times and marketing press across the region.

The Singapore Tourism Board took it down from YouTube and the video was reposted by netizens under the title ‘Singapore Tourism Board’s Horrid Promo Vid’. At the time of writing the reposted version has enjoyed almost 140,000 views with 230 comments and 577 dislikes.

What would have been considered sweet and romantic for the intended audience was considered excessively syrup in its nature by Singapore netizens and I can see their point. Some of the comments include:

Live From Asia videos: WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST SAW??? hahaha
MegaSmilee1: STB is never gonna live this down xD
Terence Yang: Honey, look! Its so lame…
Jennifer Kingston: STB needs srsly needs new talent… Is this made by foreign talent too? -_-
sporeKAfan: OMG this is such a fucking cheesy promo video! Such an embarrassment compared to our neighbouring countries’ tourism videos. What the hell is STB thinking of?
Anurag Shivach: Was this supposed to be one of those so bad it’s good videos. I laughed all throughout, well done guys.
Yibin Teo: My money!!!!!!! My hard earned money!!!!!God why do I pay tax?????

The video spawned at least two parodies by Singaporeans:

Glocal came about because doing everything from headquarters usually lacks brand resonance in local markets. In the age of worldwide social reach organisations need to move beyond the glocal model of ‘think global, act local’ to ‘think global, act local, review global’ in terms of sense and sensibility.

From a purely selfish agency point-of-view, it is a lot easier to get teams to work on work that they can feel proud of. But poor-quality content and trying to get along with insufficient resources in some markets runs the risk of embarrassing the brand and tainting its reputation in the same way that a conventional PR crisis can. More marketing related posts here.

More information

Overseas reaction to Japanese My Little Pony dub is a little odd to Japanese people | RocketNews 24
STB defends promotional video for Filipinos | Marketing Interactive
‘Baby surprise’ tourism promo video could have been done better: STB | Straits Times


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