We asked a panel of industry experts to comment on how global brand management is changing and what it takes to manage a global brand:

  1. Are you seeing any evolution in the emphasis on global brand management? Are marketers striving for more world-wide standardization? Focusing more on tailoring campaigns for individual markets? Or is something else entirely going on?
  2. How much energy and resource are going to emerging markets today? What will the share-of-effort picture look like in five years?
  3. What mixture of stringency, freedom, and communication works best for getting maximum performance from country and regional marketing teams? Does it vary from market to market? How have changes in our industry’s market dynamics impacted decision-making at a global level, or how global brand management interacts with affiliates?
  4. What is the one quality a brand manager needs to succeed on a global stage? Will this requirement change over the next few years?


The opinions expressed by the authors in the Think Tank section are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of their affiliated companies or organizations.

David M. Paragamian

David M. Paragamian
Group Company President
ApotheCom and ApotheCom
Scope Medical


In today’s pharma marketplace, virtually every brand manager works on, competes with, or leverages the reputation of a Global Brand. Regardless of how many countries your brand is marketed in, the decision-makers in the market—patients, physicians, payers—are getting messages about your brand globally. Product recalls and manufacturing issues in the U.S. will deliver a black eye in Shanghai before the next morning. New data presented at a European congress will be presented, discussed and shared around the world. Fast. So, we are all working on global brands.

One of the tenets I believe in for maximum success in global brand management involves what I will call GQ. We have all heard of IQ and EQ, measures of cognitive and emotional intelligence. GQ (no, not a fashion magazine), is your “Global Quotient.” Let me explain. In a world where we are all working on global brands, the old “export” model just doesn’t get it done anymore. You know the one I am talking about: the global brand team (usually headquartered in the U.S., alongside the large U.S. affiliate organization) creates a “toolbox” and shares it with the pharma company affiliates around the world. The export model. It is long on homogeneity, but usually short on the inclusion of relevant local and regional insights that drive customer behavior; often very short on relevant stakeholder input and collaboration from local and regional brand affiliates. And, candidly, over the years, we have all seen the spotty execution this model can engender. It’s not good for the brand or the brand manager.

In the GQ model, the emphasis is on truly understanding the individual markets and issues. “Importing” that knowledge into the global brand team to create a better product. The issue here is that it is just plain hard work. You have to take the time to dig into the local markets. You have to get on the plane and get to the regions to see the customers and the intra-company stakeholders. You have to do the homework. It means appreciating cultural differences and nuances—in how products are used, in how information is shared. Knowing little things can make a huge difference: for example the brand manager that sets a global telecom for Friday is actually asking many of his Middle East colleagues to work on the first day of their weekend (Friday, Saturday).

Global brands, not surprisingly, are the highest value brands in pharma portfolios. Managers can optimize that value and their contributions, by maximizing their GQ and working earnestly to dig into the local and regional issues. Doing the homework, importing the knowledge. Creating greater value.

Kurt Kessler

Kurt Kessler
Managing Principal and firm-wide leader
of ZS Associates’ Marketing Solutions area
ZS Associates



At first blush, one would expect standardization. Economies of scale and the common nature of human metabolism are seemingly rational arguments proposed in support of standardization. That, however, is not the case, and for good reasons. The practice of medicine differs markedly from region to region. The obvious place to point out is emerging markets, where we expect so much of our future growth. Practical alternatives, reliance on trusted generics, and folk remedies are all local norms of competition in these markets. Furthermore, many mature markets have diverged through regulatory, competitive, and cultural influences. These distinct dynamics lead one to challenge the wisdom of a single standardized global marketing campaign.

In addition, market access and price are sharply different challenges that are dependent on geography. The standards of care differ, the addressable market varies dramatically, and even infrastructure to deliver care is a factor that results in profound global market variation.

In our work, we help clients find commonalities to leverage, but also adapt greatly to local conditions. This translates into a value proposition that resonates with a range of stakeholders critical to winning locally against the competition.


Flexibility. Global marketers are challenged to bring together a wide array of functional disciplines—such as regulatory, research, development, market research, and sales—to create and implement a coherent strategy. That role is even more difficult today and will continue to be challenging given the strong contrasts in medical practice, competitive sets, and cultural differences in healthcare markets that must be addressed by today’s global marketers. In the past, creating a single vision with limited local adaption may have been the hallmark for a successful global marketer. Today and in the coming years, flexibility to adapt that vision to the practical reality of local markets will serve as the mark of leadership in global marketing.

Richard T. Minoff

Richard T. Minoff
Associate Professor, Pharmaceutical &
Healthcare Business
Mayes College of Healthcare Business
and Policy, The University of the Sciences


For years, the industry has talked about the growing emergence of the E7 or BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations, or more recently the broader concept of emerging markets. Over the past two to three years it appears that organizations have finally begun making a very real commitment to these potential opportunities. This new, or renewed commitment, is based on the inability of many global organizations to grow significantly in a time of weakly developed or mature market economies (e.g., U.S., Southern Europe, etc.,).

Without compromising confidentiality, I think that you’d find a five- to ten- fold resource allocation increase in many companies to really quicken the pace of change and evolve these markets. This evolution, however, is quite company and therapeutic area specific. The reality is that pharma, like other industries, misgauged the initial opportunity and real market differences. At a time when companies wanted to drive global brands, wherein the homogeneity of the markets (e.g., U.S., Australia, Canada, Western Europe) was reasonably similar, they often believed that the developing countries, as an aggregate, were very similar. Nothing could be further from the truth. These countries are quite dissimilar given their economies, access and reimbursement models, patient insurance schemes, healthcare professional orientation, and on and on and on.

With that said, pharma business is now ramping up in some emerging markets and while we have learned how to transfer some of the lessons learned, it is more so at a strategic level rather than at the tactical implementation level. Many organizations are still high on the opportunity, but a few others have pulled back. So where does this leave us moving forward? In my opinion, most organizations still see the opportunity and given their need for significant growth to fuel shareholder return, they will increase investment selectively as they develop or “buy” the necessary expertise to make a real go of it. Others, perhaps the most conservative in a highly conservative industry, will watch and wait, and then will either be left behind, or pay a hefty cost to enter the fray.

Nick Colucci

Nick Colucci
CEO and President
Publicis Healthcare Communications


The pharmaceutical industry has established global brand management as an essential part of the lifecycle. Not every government will have unlimited funds to spend on pharmaceutical products—so every drug must count toward improving the health of the population. The new breed of consumers will have even higher expectations of how their wants and needs are to be fulfilled. You must also satisfy two constituencies: The global team, which requires a consistent positioning, look, and feel for a campaign and the local affiliates who require a campaign that meets the specific needs of their market. Respecting differing culture and audience characteristics is essential to retaining message consistency and tapping into “local enthusiasm.” Markets are about people. In order to develop a successful customer-driven global marketing strategy, we need to take into account consumer demographics and expectations.

The real challenge for global marketers is to derive practical and implementable ways to support, improve, and stimulate use of local knowledge to further global objectives.

This need is translated into a unified cross-border marketing team, in which synchronicity and consistency are the hallmarks of global success. In these efforts, it is also best to appoint a single strategic director across multiple brands for the client.

Another key tactic is having agencies that are already leaders in these markets helping the rest of the network, and the clients, quickly break through cultural barriers. By learning best practices and allowing for opportunities to course correct, you can ensure the content and approach are always on the mark.

By taking these approaches, agencies are much more likely to focus on the same goals for the brand—fulfilling the needs of the market and advancing public health.

Joe Daley

Joe Daley
GSW Worldwide



More absolute today than ever before: Achieving a consistent brand/brand voice worldwide is essential. “Should we have a global brand or not?” I’m not sure that question gets asked behind (marketing) closed doors anymore. Forget that it is just the right thing to do; in today’s resource constrained, one-to-one, connected environment it’s a competitive disadvantage not to pursue global consistency.

If done correctly, creating a global brand and global campaign not only provides global consistency, but it can also help the marketing budget go further. Bringing together creative and strategic talent from around the world and working in collaboration so that the brand is understood and well-received in all key markets is what creates successful global brands.

With any global campaign, it is necessary to have in-country marketers review and adapt materials to reflect differences in culture, marketing practices, regulatory guidelines, etc. It’s also important that the in-country marketers create local engagement/tactical plans to ensure that the correct channels and mediums are used for that market.


I believe there are two qualities that help on the global stage: diplomacy and vision. Brand managers must demonstrate diplomacy; be facilitators, liaisons, empathetic with a commitment to communications and transparency. They must involve key stakeholders in a visible, well-defined process, in which exchange nets shared ownership. Vision translates into a willingness to take the risk to define a brand destination with a clearly stated and understood rationale for why and how the team will realize this vision. This is basic leadership behavior that will crystalize and mobilize the team. These skills enable the team to assess situations and challenges through a worldwide viewpoint and create solutions that will be positively received in key markets and by key stakeholders. Before attempting to create a solution, it is much more important to listen, understand the challenges, and build lasting relationships. By then involving these partners in the decision-making process, they will not only embrace the solution, but they will also become ambassadors. Brand managers need to be smart marketers, but more importantly, diplomats with a global vision to succeed today.

Mark Klapper

Mark Klapper
Senior Vice President
M2 WorldWide



There has definitely been a shift towards more of a global structure. Pfizer is the latest company to move in that direction, with the creation of the global commercial operations organization. The key is to recognize what can realistically be standardized. A good analogy is packaged goods, where marketers like Procter & Gamble have learned that while a brand may be global, the way that consumers respond to product features and messages will vary. Successful standardization is more about establishing best practices and using a templatized approach to guide the process of developing strategies and programs. When we have launched successful adherence programs in Europe, the strategy, framework and infrastructure for the program were developed regionally. Key messages and tactics were tailored to address local customer needs and regulatory requirements and a regional partner built and managed the infrastructure, in part to satisfy privacy and safe harbor requirements.


Listen, assess and recommend. Listening to colleagues in markets outside your own and fully understanding their issues is essential. Listening to customers and adjusting strategies to address their needs is a timeless recipe for success. A regional approach to adherence in Europe has succeeded for one of our clients because physicians there are eager for resources to help them educate and support their patients. Another significant ingredient is the willingness of key individuals at the regional level to champion the program, build the infrastructure and work with the countries to tailor it to their needs.


It’s not a case of one size fits all. Each company needs to decide the best approach, and provide teams with strategic reasons why it makes sense. The first step is understanding the situation. Without understanding the dynamics in individual markets and across regions, a well-conceived strategy that will be widely embraced cannot be developed.

Keep in mind that while a uniform strategy can make sense from a marketing and business perspective, execution is best handled at the local level as it needs to take into account differences in regulations, market dynamics and customer preferences.

David Davidovic

David Davidovic
VP and Global Head, Commercial
Roche and Genentech



This is one of those subjects that is in constant discussion and will never be answered definitively. Companies go back and forth between models, or at least consider them, all the time. Few people believe there is a black or white answer where strategies or tactics must be either globally standardized or completely locally customized for the simple fact that there isn’t a single global market. Some of the factors at play that need to be considered include disease and treatment patterns, regulatory speed and content, market opportunity dynamics, medical sophistication, and reimbursement and coverage characteristics. There are other factors as well, which tend to be more situational such as company culture, decision-making preferences, as well as company or functional maturity.


Roles are becoming more specialized and the term “brand manager” can now mean any of many different capacities that touch brands either at a strategic or at a tactical level. These roles can be branding, communications, strategy analytics, key customer relations, pricing and reimbursement, training, marketing procurement, agency management, sales planning, and others. Every one of these roles, to be successful, requires “extreme adaptability.”

So much is changing, not only among markets on a global scale, but also within each market. The ability to adapt to regional and local conditions is critical and complex in itself, and it becomes even more difficult once you add the fact that market conditions are changing everywhere at breakneck speeds. The only way to be successful is to go beyond keeping up with all this change by staying ahead of it—extreme adaptability is essential. Not only are core elements of markets changing all the time, including treatment patterns, influence networks, pricing and reimbursement, but also the world of regulations and compliance. This heightened compliance sensitivity around the world means a global manager needs to be more than on top of and adaptable to changes—but, in fact, global managers need to be compliance champions.

Emma Sergeant

Emma Sergeant
Managing Director, Global Business
Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide



The growing pressure on pharma company resources due to the macro-economic climate, patent expirations, and pipeline challenges has resulted in an increasing need to standardize global brand activities. The emergence of digital resources is further enabling this centralization. There is also a requirement for the brand to take a cohesive global approach as generic competition takes hold. Despite this, gaining key insights to tailor local market activities still has an important part to play to ensure effective local implementation. Creating well-thought-through central core marketing support with the ability to flexibly and efficiently adapt is the new marketing art.

In order to build successful campaigns, global teams must involve the regional and local marketing teams when developing core marketing activities. Clear, user-friendly guidelines ensure that certain brand and marketing elements are consistent whilst others can be locally adapted. Digital tools have facilitated this process and where the budget sits allows this to be managed effectively. Innovation funding at the local market level for pilot projects enables the country marketers to utilize their skills. If pilots are successful, they can then be repurposed and rolled out on a global basis. Local markets with small budgets can work more effectively by utilizing centrally developed support materials. Creation of extended virtual collaborative teams—rather than local, regional and global team silos—is the way many pharma companies are now working to effectively utilize their marketing resources.


Whilst pharma is increasingly investing in emerging markets, recent efforts have been focused on market exploration, pilot activities and market access/payer engagement. As the findings from these activities is absorbed, marketing spend will further increase, particularly in disease awareness, utilization of digital channels, and providing healthcare packages encompassing pharma brands and healthcare management resources.


Collaboration. The ability to network effectively and collaboratively enables brand managers to gain insights from their markets to build global campaigns. Facilitating collaborative marketing efforts is vital in engaging markets in successful launch and growth plans. Additionally, in the era of co-marketing activities, cross-portfolio brand management coupled with lean internal staffing and collaborative working are the keys to success.

Christian Bauman

Christian Bauman
Managing Director
H4B Chelsea


The idea of global brands in pharma is rapidly evolving from “a good idea” to an imperative. As with many other things in the new millennium, we’re approaching a place where arguments for or against global branding are becoming irrelevant; because of the Internet, there are no borders anymore. What you say to a customer in France will be viewed by a customer in Brazil, so if you’re not speaking in one voice in terms of positioning and branding, you’re going to be perceived as inconsistent and therefore untrustworthy. The train has left the station on this issue, and those left behind will find themselves struggling with weakened brand identities.

That doesn’t mean local should be ignored. Quite the contrary, at the message level, those who present boilerplate messaging will struggle to be relevant to their customers. The key, then, is to find that right mix, with clear and powerful global positioning and branding, but focused and relevant messages at the local level. It’s about compromise, and executing with a magic mix of discipline and flexibility.

So those are the qualities a brand manager needs to possess to succeed on the global stage. Both the discipline to bring disparate local marketers in line on a single big brand idea, as well as the flexibility to recognize the importance of adjusting to fit specific country-critical needs. Conversely, at the local level, marketers who want to shine and show their worth must be fierce advocates for the insights generated from their local customers, while at the same time demonstrating that they’re true stewards of what is ultimately a global brand, and have the big picture equally in mind.


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