Feature

Business columns: Think locally, advertise carefully

Burger King is the latest multinational to inflame local sensitivities, with its European ad campaign for the &ldquo;Texican Whopper,&rdquo; said Shaun Rein in <em>Forbes.</em>

Shaun ReinForbes

Know your market. Why do so many global companies have trouble remembering that fundamental rule? asked Shaun Rein. Burger King is the latest multinational to inflame local sensitivities, with its European ad campaign for the “Texican Whopper.” The ads “featured a lanky American cowboy, a short, round Mexican draped in a cape resembling Mexico’s flag, and the tag line ‘the taste of Texas with a little spicy Mexican.’” Following complaints from Mexican-Americans and Mexico’s ambassador to Spain, Burger King pulled the ad, but the public-relations damage was done.

The company should have heeded the lesson of Fiat, which last year ran an ad starring actor Richard Gere. Although the ad didn’t air in China, where Gere is “hated” for his support of Tibetan freedom, many Chinese saw the ad online and vowed never to buy a Fiat. That’s no way to woo the world’s fastest-growing car market.

To avoid such fiascoes, multinationals need to stay in close touch with their local outlets. “When your advertising campaign draws official protest from a nation’s government instead of increased sales, it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy.”

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