June 21st, 2011
06:11 PM GMT
Cannes, France (CNN) – Robert Redford came to Cannes on Tuesday, for the Creative Festival, as opposed to the film one.
He addressed an audience of communications execs who were brought up watching his movies. Redford made his name depicting the Wild West but the West is now developed and his audience is far more interested in the wild East.
The head of one global agency referred to an "Anglo-Saxon mafia" in advertising, and accepted he was a member of it. The industry is largely based in London and New York, and that could be working against them in some markets.
In China, Western agencies are beating off the local competition, thanks largely to the prestige attached to anything Western, particularly luxury goods. But local agencies are getting stronger. It's much tougher in India, where local agencies are arguably winning with their expert local knowledge.
The answer for the global agencies is to be become local by hiring local, but that's not as easy as you think, even for the biggest players.
The creative industry is all about talent. It is the only major asset in the business so if you have the best talent, you have the best business. There is no lack of good creatives in emerging economies but they do seem to lack loyalty to employers. One leading global agency is losing half its staff in China every year and is having to find replacements. It's a common problem. Talented Chinese staff are constantly being poached and they are going, largely, for the best money.
There doesn't seem to be any way around this problem, apart from paying staff more than the competition.
Who said emerging markets were cheap?
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