To find out more about the activities of the international COM, consult our episode #7.
Word to the pros
📣 On the advertiser side, we discuss with Charlotte Jean, Head of Digital Marketing at Amundi, while on the agency side it is Arthur Kannas, CEO of Heaven, who answers our questions.
Hello to both of you, to start what is your job to each?
Charlotte John: I am Digital Marketing Manager at Amundi, European leader in asset management. This subsidiary of the Crédit Agricole Group for which I work, has one of its offices in Dublin, Ireland, where I left a year and a half ago to try the international experience. On a daily basis, I manage a team of 1 people specialized in marketing digital.
Arthur Kannas: I created theagency of next-generation advertising Heaven, or "paradise" 😀. Our challenge, for 20 years, has been to connect brands to communities that already exist on the internet. To do this, we have carefully followed all the evolutions of the web: chat, discussion forum, blog, Social networks and all sorts of other emerging platforms. Heaven's 80 employees support brands in developing their digital strategies locally and/or globally. In other words, we help advertisers to reach their targets by appropriating today's cultural codes.
Where and when did you decide to focus on international communication?
CJ: When I did my first work-study program during my master's degree in marketing, it was not possible to go abroad. However, already a student, this desire for international was very present in me. When I joined Amundi about ten years ago, I had the chance to perform a wide variety of tasks: marketing, communication, social networks… Nevertheless, this desire to discover other cultures never ceased. It is therefore quite natural that I communicated internally about my desires for expatriation. When Amundi offered me a position in Dublin, even though this destination was not at the top of my list, I embarked on an international adventure. I have never regretted this decision since. Dublin is a place of marketing and communication, where all the strength of the international unfolds.
AK: To tell the truth, I didn't really seek to orient myself towards international communication. I would say that I wanted to focus more on brand issues. Subsequently, I simply followed my clients wherever their problems took them.
When we founded the agency, we worked with Microsoft France, therefore on a local scale. What we did for them worked so well that other international branches of Microsoft came to meet us to sign new collaborations. It was therefore very early on that Heaven had this double skill in digital marketing: local and global.
The name of the agency does not refer to the French language, nor to technology or digital. Thus, the field of our expertise was not limited, it was possible for us to reinvent ourselves. We did not go looking for the international, it was the international who came to get us.
What does a typical day look like with multiple time zones?
CJ: Dublin and France are already an hour apart. It reflects on all my days and all my weeks. As Digital Manager on a worldwide scope, I have to work with Asia, Europe and the United States at the same time. For that I sometimes have to start earlier, finish later or even cut short a lunch. It is necessary to be good in international organization, the schedule remaining fluctuating.
Depending on the country, local cultures vary. I was surprised to find that in Ireland people finish earlier in the evening. Life abroad also means knowing how to adapt and assimilate local ways of life.
AK: In general, whether with advertisers or agencies, distance has made communication jobs more invasive today than a few years ago. The boundaries between professional life and personal life tend to fade with this distance on which the international is dependent, since it requires adapting to a multitude of time zones.
Exchanging in real time is a condition for good understanding and a good relationship with customers. We must always be available and able to respond quickly to their problems. It is not possible to confine oneself to the asynchrony of sending emails. The days are sometimes very long, and most often you will observe that your interlocutors do not really take this into account. Good planning management is therefore essential.
I would add this precision all the same: in agencies, we are better placed to define meeting times.
What is the most stimulating thing about your job?
CJ: No doubt the fact that it's international 😀. Diaries are systematically full of meetings, of course, but this guarantees enriching exchanges with a multitude of cultures and a multitude of interlocutors. Each country has local needs that vary, each specificity of each project is therefore different and exciting. In other words, the days are extremely stimulating, allowing us to live several lives. In France, communication already fascinated me, but through the international prism, it is even more true.
Finally, I quite regularly work with agencies. It is captivating, here again, to see ideas emerge from the outside, ideas that nourish our thoughts and sometimes modify our visions of the company.
AK: I would say the most stimulating is supporting the client in a problem that is specific to him. We need to understand the difficulties he encounters, apprehend his vision and analyze our ability to support him.. A team then makes every effort to solve a problem.
In agencies, we are lucky to see a new challenge presenting itself to us every day. Problems, needs and customers drive our creativity. This requires a particular but extremely stimulating cerebral gymnastics.
Which international communication campaign are you most proud of?
CJ: Since I am currently working on my first the countryside international scope, I have no example to give you, strictly speaking. Nevertheless, I can tell you about this operation in progress, intended for our worldwide retail customers, and must therefore take into account all the local DNA. This represents substantive work internally, since we have to combine fundamentally different ways of working. I would say that pride in communication is simply to observe, thanks to statistics, that we have managed to respond to the issues raised.
Otherwise, to quote a more concrete pride, this year I had the chance to recruit a graphic designer specialized in digital communication. The latter has opened a door of creativity in the creation of contents. It inspires us all and is an incredible team pride.
AK: I would like to mention a campaign that we had initially carried out for Samsung France and which was spotted as far away as the USA. The international imposed itself on us with “Unleash your fingers” and its more than 10 million views. This communication was described as "best campaign for a telephone", by a large advertising magazine across the Atlantic.
When working internationally, it is essential to ask the question of the balance of power between the global and the local. In other words, the global must boost the local and vice versa, which requires calling on extremely varied skills. Communicating at the global level is relatively simple, you just have to address everyone. While communicating locally requires more precision and mastery of cultural codes, to develop a powerful message.
Recently, we carried out an international campaign for Engie. The latter wanted to be accompanied in the creation of content CSR for their social networks. So, how to use social networks to communicate on CSR markdowns? Quite simply by developing a digital campaign that reduces the carbon footprint. “Black is the net green”, encouraged Internet users to reduce their electricity consumption, by switching to dark mode for example. This communication, initially social media, very quickly had an impact outside the social sector, especially internally. Finally, "Black is the new green" convinced the management of Engie to change the color of the logo, black consuming less energy on the screens.
What are the major developments in international communication?
AK: Developments in international communication follow local developments. It is important that a new technology or a new trend is not confined to a territory, but can be embraced globally.
Moreover, with the advent ofinfluence and social networks, which we have witnessed in recent years, budgetary priorities have changed, favoring social media investments. Virtual universes are growing.
Finally, in terms of ethics, consumers expect more commitment from companies, both in their words and in their actions.
CJ : I share Arthur's opinion, the emergence of local trends must be taken on a global scale. It is important to share original ideas, coordinate them and apply them to international campaigns.
I would add that developments in international communication are specific to each sector. In finance, for example, we are often slower when it comes to big innovations.
Last but not least, the major change would, in my opinion, lie in the choice of media. Digital has become a lever that no company can do without, the budgets allocated to it are constantly growing.
Do you have any advice for future communicators who are destined for a career worldwide?
CJ: As for technical skills, it really depends on the different positions you will occupy within the different communication and marketing teams. However, I insist on one point, a quality that must be common to all future communicators: creativity. You will need to show great sensitivity to creation, and always remain curious about new ideas. A good communicator is a communicator who knows how to follow his convictions, transmit them and share them. Any idea is good to investigate!
If you are still hesitating about going international, my advice would be to go ahead without asking yourself too many questions. If you feel the desire to discover other horizons, if you like communication and languages, then try the adventure. Only when you are an expatriate will you understand what it is. If I had to do it again, I certainly wouldn't have waited 10 years to get started. Note, however, that it is possible to pursue an international career from France.
Finally, for the less bilingual among you, this should not be an obstacle to your career, remember that it is never too late to learn.
AK: To come back to creativity, yes international communication requires a permanent state of alert. The role of the communicator is above all to understand and apprehend the needs and objectives of a brand. All this to be able to send the most appropriate message to the most relevant audience. So, be curious about the company, the strategies, the targets, what is being done elsewhere, everything!
I would add that, and it goes without saying, team spirit is essential. Communication is a sector that mixes many disciplines, with which you will have to collaborate on a daily basis: advertising, marketing, press relations, digital… It is a world at the crossroads of a whole host of possibilities and potentials.
And for those who still hesitate, the international is an opportunity that exists today and which is to be seized. This will allow you to discover another culture, to learn its language, to remove barriers... An international experience testifies to a strong capacity for adaptation.
Head of digital marketing at Amundi
Agency General Manager Heaven