Think global, act local

mcdonalds_oz_maccas_fb_jan2013 (1)

McDonald’s Appeals to Aussie Pride with Macca’s rebrand in Australia

In January 2013, fast food chain McDonald’s let its Australian team have a bit of fun with the name. The brand is affectionately called Macca’s Down Under, and the company has decided to adopt the nickname officially on signs at 13 outlets, which McDonald’s had never done in any other countries before, and also on social media and in its advertising and promotions.

The decision was inspired, as AFP reports, by a market survey found that 55 percent of Australians refer to McDonald’s, which launched in Sydney’s Yagoona suburb in 1971, as Macca’s.

“We’ve been a part of Australia for over 40 years now and we’re incredibly proud to embrace our ‘Australian-only’ nickname,” commented Mark Lollback, chief marketing officer for McDonald’s Australia. “What better way to show Aussies how proud we are to be a part of the Australian community than by changing our store signs to the name the community has given us?”

As part of the followed on promotion McDonald’s Australia localized its menu and to appeal to that famed Aussie pride in the lead-up to Australia Day, as you can see below:


Do you like they way McDonald’s market itself in Australia? Apparently lots of customers  do. In 2014, Sales at McDonald’s outlets in Australia reached $4 billion, suggesting a $1 billion profit in the hotly contested fast-food market.

This is a great example of brand localization.

While global brand consistency is undoubtedly a beneficial strategy and position of market strength, the reality is “think global, act local” creates persistent challenges for marketers.

So how are forward-thinking global brands balancing local, multi-channel relevance with global storytelling, thematic consistency and economies of scale? Let’s look at below considerations for successful brand localization.

  1. Start with a global strategy, then think local. Just because a branding strategy works great in your home country doesn’t mean it will carry over successfully in additional markets. It’s all about effective multi-country brand management.
  1. Tap locals and make the right impression in each market. Even if you need to make strategic decisions about marketing localization for a given country from thousands of miles away, make sure you check to see if your approach will work for that culture. A local marketing expert or team member should weigh in for input. Adapting marketing campaigns for different cultures is a complex journey, and it’s not always a straight road for many companies.
  1. Ensure local market resonance with quality steps. Every marketing localization initiative should include a final proof—and if it suits your business needs, a final post-formatted review by a native speaker and marketing expert is a good idea too.  
  1. Be flexible and open to adaptation. In every aspect relating to your brand, it pays to think ahead for each market. Develop your overall brand voice, but make sure you’re singing a tailored tune that’s going to harmonize with a given locale’s expectations.

Do you have any thoughts re the above? What other brand localization stories are you aware of, and were they all successful? For the failed ones, how would you do it differently if you were the marketer? 



12 thoughts on “Think global, act local

  1. Very interesting post.

    As a global brand,how to make brand localisation meet local customers’ need is playing an important role on business success.

    The four step for brand localisation is pretty impressive,especially the first step of how to think local.To set an effective local for business in the new market can set a right direction for brand image and business expansion.

    However,in my views,if the global companies could start with a right business strategy for brand localisation in other countries,before the first step,they should also make the assessment of local cultures.In 2012,an embarrassing error made by Kraft when promoting Oreo in Russia. I’m sure probably you’ve known about it. The new name they marketed in Russia translated as ‘oral sex’. Not the kind of image Kraft want to promote! The name shows that Kraft hasn’t carried out proper due diligence to make sure that it finds a brand name appropriate for all international markets”.

    Thus,to make an assessment about the local culture should be the first step for global brands’ localisation.


    • Thanks Tina. 🙂 Yes marketer needs to be very careful when translating a brand name into a local language. A good one will add value to the brand, and vise versa. Unfortunately, Kraft (Mondelez) story is the latter. In terms of brand name translation, one good example is Pizza Hut China. It’s Chinese name, “Bi Sheng Ke,” means “Must Succeed Customer” in Chinese. It gives no hint that the restaurant is about pizza. The name resonates well with Chinese, as it implies success and good fortune, which is so much favored by Chinese customers.


  2. Businesses should think global, and act local. If you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. What works in one country might not work in another. Companies don’t have just one marketing concept that works globally. McDonald’s, they have a strong global position, with more than 34,000 restaurants. Even McDonald’s needs to adapt its menus to local wishes and preferences. Their hamburgers and fries are very popular, although in some countries the menus look completely different. In Morocco and other Islamic countries, McDonald’s has localized their menu by serving halal burgers.


  3. Thinking global and acting local certainly sounds like common sense. McDonald’s adoption of the terms “Maccas” and “Aussie” probably worked well owing to the uniqueness of the Australian market. Australians have a long history of nick-naming items in this fashion. If this strategy were to work in another country then the brand would have to really do their homework well to be sure the terms they choose were recognised in the same or very similar way across the country – and they would certainly be well advised to check out the translations!! I’m surprised at Kraft – goes to show you should never rest on your laurels and always be working hard to stay on top of your game.


    • Yes it’s important to know the local culture and clearly know “how” to do it. Starbucks failed in Australia as it did not “think local”.


      • Yes this is indeed an interesting blog. good comparison of strong brand localisation (mcDonalds) vs weak brand localisation (Starbucks) which gives you an understanding where Starbucks was lacking in their brand localisation and where McDonalds do an excellent jobs with their brand localisation.


  4. Excellent example of how brand localisation can be successful, but it is also important to understand that this won’t work for every product. For example companies like Samsung, Shell, Apple and Ford benefit from being a brand that is easily recognizable around the world… I specifically mentioned Ford, because they had entirely different approach to GM, who established Holden as a local brand. Who would you say is more successful?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comments Manoje. I agree with you that some brands may need little change in branding when entering a new geographical market, however I think a serious study in the necessity of localization is a must before launching any marketing activities. Even marketers find it’s good to keep brand image/ name the same in the new market, they might still need to make adjustments on positioning, segmentation and advertising etc. to some extent, which are within the ‘broad” concept of branding. I don’t know car market well, but talking about Ford, interestingly I had a chat with my friend in the US last week and she told she was going to buy a Ford Expedation. When I googled images of Expedation to see how it looked like, I found they were UTE in Australia, but were a typical large SUV in the US. Don’t you think Ford did some homework before it decided to sell Expedation as UTE in Australia? 🙂


  5. Abercrombie and Fitch was just recently decided to close exit their business in Australia due to poor sales performance. This brand is only last in Australia for 2 years
    Unlike its competitors ZARA, Top Shop and H&M that are successfully penetrate Australian market. A&F have failed to connect with Australian customers and they did not do appropriate marketing. They were also stiffed with their company policies try apply the same policy in Australia–fitch-exits-australia-taking-its-private-jet-with-it-20150305-13vodl.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Stjang, thanks for your comments, it’s a perfect example of “not thinking local, you fail”. To be honest, I’ve shopped in Zara, H&M and Uniqlo etc. the new retailers opened in recent years, but I even did not know A&F opened in Australia! What a good local marketing… What we learned from it? I think marketers should always be humble, tap local, don’t take things for granted. Success in home country does not mean they can succeed in other part of the world.


  6. interesting post. i agree companies should think globally and act locally. i found this rather intresting

    ‘While global brand consistency is undoubtedly a beneficial strategy and position of market strength, the reality is “think global, act local” creates persistent challenges for marketing executives across their org structures, agency relationships and technical infrastructure. These challenges are also frequently compounded by decentralized, market-by-market budgets, which can slow the adoption of central governance systems and weaken global campaign authority.

    From the local market perspective, global teams may be seen as out of touch, trying to apply a one-size-fits-all messaging model that doesn’t speak to local consumer needs and cultural realities. Back when Proctor & Gamble first started selling Pampers diapers in Japan, the brand used an image of a stork delivering a baby on the packaging. While the packaging was effective in the U.S., sales slumped in Japan until the company discovered Japanese mothers and fathers were concerned and confused by the stork. The story of a stork bringing babies to parents didn’t exist in Japanese culture’

    retrieved from:


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