In the advertising industry, the utterance of “Local” can conjure up several images. A farmer standing in a green field with their herd. A GAA field plonked in the middle of nowhere. A small town where the people have a funny accent.
That same word can also bring forth a lot of tired cliches and questions, especially for people working in a city-based industry. Is the population too sparse to merit the local targeting investment? Will the national campaign do the job for us there? Will we focus on the cities and major urban areas instead?
And I hold my hand up high. Even as someone from ‘the country’ with one of those funny accents, I was guilty of asking those questions while living in Dublin. I was guilty of reducing it down to a numbers game, especially when you have a finite budget and creative resources available. The years eroded the fact that these numbers represented real people and families, living their everyday life in the best way they can, in the place they call home.
Fourteen years after I first packed my bindle and left for ‘the big smoke’, I returned to my native Mayo for good. A move that once seemed impossible to fathom soon became a delightful inevitability. This magnetic draw home was summed up best by George A. Moore, a fellow county and parish-man, when he said, “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”.
After being home for over a year now, I have a whole new definition and appreciation of what “Local” really means. It goes far beyond a media targeting segment. It transcends geographical regions and borderlines. So regardless of whether you live in the sticks, a town or a city, the real meaning of “Local” is all the same.
“Local” is the world you create around yourself. By this nature, local is as individual to all of us as is our tastes and preferences.
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” – George A. Moore
Looking beyond close family ties, “Local” is the supermarket/newsagent/butcher/cafés we prefer to shop in. The walks and areas we like to go to, and that intangible nice feeling they give us. It is the people we want to talk to on a daily/weekly basis, regardless of where they are in the world. It is what we decide to consume, from regional radio right through to the latest blockbuster release on Netflix (which most likely stars Ryan Reynolds, so let’s be honest, you’re probably going to watch it).
When we meet others that share some of these values and interests, we are drawn together as a community, sometimes regardless of what parish, town or county we’re from. We pull together and champion a unified cause, and we invest in nearby infrastructure and in charities that we share a connection with. This network becomes your trusted source for recommendations on anything from picking a dentist to your next car.
Over the last two years, many small towns and parishes have been given a new lease of life. Young people are moving back and putting down roots. New jobs are springing up in tandem, with many employees working remotely in a full time or hybrid fashion. This will be further aided as high-speed broadband continues to spread across these regions, turning any home into a regional satellite office.
Witnessing this shift, in tandem with all the quirks that make where you live unique and fun, has transformed my view on what “Local” is. As we approach briefs in Foe, our thoughts are less about where our target audience lives and more about them as individuals. What is going on in their lives? What does their ‘locality’ look like? What will cut through and make a connection with them and others like them?
Targeting “Local” is much more than a geographical question. It goes far beyond a simple numbers game. Local is bigger than the tired cliches. As brands and marketers, if we can tap into this kind of local, we will become part of a very exclusive and special place in customers lives.
Aaron is the Managing Director / Lead Producer at Foe. After working in media planning for seven years, Aaron set up Foe in 2017. Foe is an Ideation and Production House, specialising in high-quality asset production across all media and solving media activation briefs.