In the United States, an extensive benchmark study we conducted for Cooper Power Systems ranked them high in awareness and customer service. With revenues exceeding $1 billion, Cooper is well-known as a company dedicated to providing innovative solutions in response to the most critical issues facing their customers today. Translating that equity to the Latin American market, however, required much more than simply translating our existing U.S. advertising. It required sensitivity toward cultural, regulatory, and economic variances and the full use of our firm’s global network.


In recent years, Cooper Power Systems (and the companies Cooper acquired in the late 1980s) has experienced significant success in Latin America. In key markets such as Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia, utilities are facing privatization, which places ever-more stringent requirements on them regarding power reliability and quality. They, in turn, are pressuring equipment suppliers such as Cooper to help them address these critical issues in a way that will have a positive impact on their bottom line.


New competition from global giants including ABB, Siemens, and General Electric, however, threatens Cooper’s ability to grow its business across the Latin America region. In the face of stronger global brand images, the fact that Cooper has never advertised or marketed itself in Latin America has resulted in the perception that it is only a niche player. Low customer awareness of its broad range of capabilities and its tradition of providing superior products with respected names acquired from McGraw-Edison, RTE, Kyle, and Kearney hinders Cooper’s ability to fend off competition.




Cooper’s Latin America region had one objective in mind: to generate leads in the region. Together, we agreed on a target of 200 leads in the first year of the campaign. Next, we agreed on some basic tenets: Our advertising needed to be built around a call-to-action. Respondents to that call had to be able to communicate in their own language, which meant response mechanisms (telephone and Web site) available in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. And, finally, Cooper had to have a data and lead management system in place so that leads could be fulfilled in a timely manner and tracked to measure sales.


On a parallel track, we did exhaustive research into advertising trends in Latin America in an attempt to identify cultural similarities that could transcend country borders and language differences across the region. We attempted to understand the subtleties and mores that could lead to compelling rational and emotional appeals.


For the first year’s advertising, we decided to produce three ads: a launch ad featuring Cooper’s long history in the region; and two ads on the key issues facing the region’s utilities, power reliability and distribution automation. We contracted for a total of 30 insertions with five key pubs in the region to reach our entire audience.


Because some of our U.S. advertising runs in magazines that are actually international, there is spill-over of our U.S. ads into the LatAm region. To avoid confusion, we wanted our Latin America ads to carry the look and feel of their U.S. counterparts, while being specific to the region.


In the Portuguese versions of the ads for Brazil, we needed to include the point that Cooper has a manufacturing plant in the country, a fact we found to be quite important to Brazilians.


Feedback from Cooper’s LatAm sales force was that while many customers are not familiar with Cooper, they are familiar with the entities that make up the company. The strategy behind our first ad was to transition the equity of the McGraw-Edison, RTE, Kyle, and Kearney names to Cooper Power Systems. In ads two and three, we needed to demonstrate that Cooper has solid and cost-effective solutions that address reliability and distribution automation issues.



We found that, in creating advertising for Latin America, execution is everything! Look at Ad #1. The headline was carefully rewritten to say, “Cooper Power Systems has a history as rich and colorful as our own.” (It was originally written to say “your own”, which made Cooper seem like an interloper and not part of the region!) The national icons, the colors, were all carefully chosen to appeal to the Latin American utility market, an increasingly sophisticated audience. The very premise of the ad – the premium placed on tradition and long-standing relationships – is something that our counterparts in our Latin America offices assured us would be motivating.


The second ad shows the difference between “Reliability” (electricity on in a big city) and “Liability” (lights off). This was actually a premise we were able to adapt from the U.S., but in Latin America it was even more poignant given the stiff fines and penalties imposed under privatization for outages.


The third ad once again dramatized the power of relationships, collaboration, and the kind of roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic revered in the region. The headline says, “At Cooper, we’ll go to work with you on distribution automation solutions that meet your needs, your budget, and your regulatory mandates. We’d like to start by meeting your automation personnel.” The overt call-to-action in the headline was a polite request for Cooper to be invited in to meet the decision-maker at the utility.


All three ads used some of the graphic elements of the U.S. campaign to lend consistency. The LatAm versions showed products, which is not done in the U.S. but was felt to be necessary in this market. Also, Cooper’s long-standing tagline, “You can count on Cooper down the line” did not translate well as a promise in LatAm.



Feedback on the advertising from the Cooper sales force, customers, magazines, and trade show attendees in the region has been overwhelmingly positive. To date, 205 leads have been generated. (Our Sao Paulo and Miami offices have been contacted to assist with lead management support.) Several leads have turned into requests for bids and sales for Cooper, with a major project underway at Luz Y Fuera. Web site activity in Latin American countries has also increased over 1999 levels, with Brazil averaging 135 hits per month, followed by Mexico (105), Chile (49) and Argentina (44).