How about a sketch of Mick Jagger with his signature protruding lips combined with Moorish arches?
For that matter, should an operations manager attempt to incorporate Eric Clapton’s Gibson Les Paul electric guitar with Spanish tile?
One would think an acoustic guitar would fit better into the classic Castilian style, but no one will ever confuse Andres Segovia with heavy metal.
For months including the critical last three weeks before opening night in Sevilla, the team behind the Hard Rock Café worked diligently to fully respect Spanish tradition, while swearing allegiance to the rocking iconic restaurant chain.
Carlos Gil, the Venezuelan-born Hard Rock Café operations manager out of Amsterdam, visited patrons on the opening night this past August 4. He said local authorities insisted on the preservation of the Romanesque columns. The chain was more than happy to comply and even to incorporate them into the setting for customers.
Hard Rock in the Land of the Flamenco?
Sounds like a potential prescription for integrated marketing communications (IMC) disaster, but from all appearances it is working in Sevilla, Spain as evidenced by the turnout on opening night.
Starbucks and The Prado
About the length of one futbol pitch is the distance between Madrid’s famous Prado art museum and the usually well-located, Starbucks.
Howard Schultz and his Starbucks team certainly have a knack for finding great locations for the 33,000 stores of the $19.28 billion largest coffee roaster in the world.
Without doubt, each of Starbucks’ venues is consistent with the company’s brand from the green aprons of the baristas to the coffee posters from all over the world. But what is different in Spain’s capital city is that Starbucks also incorporates the Spanish style into its store.
As the inevitable pace toward globalization and a flatter world intensifies, so will the demands on multi-national brands to respect the culture while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the brand.
Many are opposed to multi-national chains, and will naturally opt for local choices. Others will yearn for the consistency of product. A Starbucks latte tastes the same in Seattle as it does in Madrid as it does in Dublin or München. There is a beauty in predictability in an unsettled world.
Starbucks wants to deliver a consistency of product wherever and whenever patrons come-in for a latte, mocha or cappuccino. At the same time, the company’s stores do not have to be indistinguishable cookie-cutter designs with each one mimicking the very first one at Seattle’s Pike Park Market.
Seasoned PR and marketing managers instinctively can sense a departure from the “conscience” of the brand, but are they are equally adept when it comes to incorporating a local culture and traditions into the presentation of the brand?
What is the smart solution? The answer lies with respecting a local culture, not going “native,” and at the same time be consistent with brand management.
Professor Geert Hofstede is famous for his Cultural Dimensions Theory measuring national differences in six arenas: Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long-Term Orientations and Indulgence.
Before dipping their collective toes into another culture’s waters, it is best to weigh the very real differences between what you know and call familiar, and what you don’t know.
Wal-Mart succeeded big time in Mexico and failed miserably in Germany. Unilever’s Dove “Real Curves” campaign was a hit in the United States, but went over like a lead balloon (not to be confused with Led Zeppelin) in Taiwan.
Under Hofstede’s theory, Spain is high in power distance (57 percent), average in individualism (51 percent); low in masculinity and high in compassion (42 percent), skyrocketing in uncertainty avoidance (86 percent); below average in long-term orientation (48 percent) and low in indulgence (44 percent).
There are zero issues when it comes to Brand über Alles. The brand must be respected and maintained. At the same time, there are cultural considerations that need to be considered as well.
Can they work together? Hard Rock Café and Starbucks are at least two global companies that have responded in the affirmative.