Clearly I should know this. Whether the phrase is ‘think local, act global…’ or the other way round. ‘Think global, act local…’
With the briefest bit of digging, it appears the answer is the latter. And actually the phrase is ‘think globally, act locally’ – and was first coined by a Scottish town planner, Patrick Geddes, as early as 1915. Who knew?
It is not, in short, something that has just cropped up in the mind of Canary chief executive David McNally, as the club this week announced its new tie-in with Front Row Marketing Services – of Philadelphia, Pa, no less.
Why go Stateside for this three-year consultancy deal? Why not keep such lucrative PR and marketing work local?
Because City are thinking globally… something that, likewise, rings a bell in this neck of the woods following the news of fresh investment in Addiply. From a firm in Tokyo. As we, too, try to think global while acting locally – in our case by developing a rural wifi cloud to throw over the community of Loddon.
But McNally’s quotes are worth repeating; if only for this stress on ‘thinking global’.
“Their [Front Row] depth of experience and expertise in the field of sports brand development and marketing on a global scale will continue to help us to meet our objectives of significantly expanding Norwich City’s global footprint,” he said.
The quotes from across the Pond were brilliant – in the sense that they appeared to come from a US sports nut born and raised on the NFL and the NBA and not the EPL. A whole new phraseology was opening up before him as ‘one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing sports and entertainment marketing firms’ tries to get their heads around one of the most passionately local football clubs in said league.
“We are very excited to work with Norwich City as they grow their business opportunities not just domestically, but around the world,” said Chris Lencheski, President of Front Row Marketing Services.
“There are few global properties hotter these days than Barclays Premier League football clubs, and we think the Canaries are uniquely primed to take advantage of that platform.
“In Delia Smith, the UK’s bestselling cookery writer and television presenter, having sold over 21 million copies of her books worldwide, the Club has a majority owner who is a genuine fan, and it’s great to be working with a successful woman in a male dominated environment.”
Which might come as news to Nigella.
For me, it is the language that fascinates – the repeated use of the terms ‘global’ and ‘world’ – and memories of the Old Man, of one-time Canary chairman Robert Chase.
Because he was the epitome of a classic, local businessman becoming the chairman of his local football club – and continuing to both think and act locally.
The contrast to his successor some 20 years later could not be more stark.
The little I know of City chairman Alan Bowkett, the more he strikes me as one of those men who has long acted globally; more than comfortable glad-handing his way round the Far East in the company of, say, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, as they set the seal on the latest £3 billion football rights deal.
This is the company that Bowkett keeps; in fairness to the Old Man, he always looked after his own – as anyone on the ‘VIP’ flights to Arnhem, Munich and Milan will attest.
Half of Norfolk’s local government would have been lost had one particular return flight skidded 150 yards further off the runway and onto the Cromer Road. Not to mention its football reporting elite.
But this is the point; and this is where the ‘growing pains’ may still exist.
Norwich is a wonderfully community-focussed club – it has long, long been at the heart of all that owners Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones strive for in terms of their stewardship of the club.
That it doesn’t forget its local roots; that it stays true to its own, tightly-knit community.
But there are now forces and opportunities at work that extend way beyond the boundaries of Norfolk; chances to sell ‘the brand’ to whole new audiences – millions of whom will never set foot across the Wensum.
And, in a sense, that’s the big challenge that lies behind this week’s announcement – in acting globally, will City continue to think locally? Will they stay true to their community roots as they take ever surer steps on a global marketing stage?
Michael D says
I agree, Rick, this is a fascinating deal in many respects, not that I have any clue what tangible benefits it will bring, but because of it being the first of what I presume will be others to follow. I think part of your struggle to get the wording the right way round is because companies like HSBC that uses the slogan think globally act locally, are actually very different from Norwich City – they are indeed global, and their challenge is how to act locally. So for City, as it was in Patrick Geddes original case, the challenge is the reverse.
In short, it is the success or otherwise of this way of thinking which will determine whether the ‘lil ole Norwich’ really becomes an epitaph of the past. In answer to your last question, I don’t see how the Board cannot still continue to think locally. They eventually want to expand and fill Carrow Road with 35,000 people. You cannot change the class structure of that audience in the way that Chelsea and Arsenal have done, because Norwich and Norfolk doesn’t have that size population. So the make up of season ticket holders will stay essentially the same, and since some are already dropping out because of pricing, the Board, although they will test the limits, will still have to carefully watch the equation as to when pricing starts to see demand fall away.
So actually, I think it is the reverse question that will be fascinating to see, how does CIty truly create global appeal? There are City supporter groups that are widely far flung, but their numbers are small at present, even if their loyalty is high. This is the metric the Board will be looking to increase, and I am curious to see as to how, whilst indeed I think they will not be allowed to forget that the club’s appeal is in its rootedness in its Norwich and Norfolk community.