How to Use Small-market Insights to Market Big Brands

Sarah Steimer
Marketing News
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Key Takeaways

​What? Luciana Cani, senior executive creative director at Lapiz, has worked across the globe in markets large and small.

So what? Cani’s experience in various market sizes has helped her use a range of perspectives to challenge the status quo.

Now what? Resourcefulness and being receptive to the subtleties of different cultures are two attributes Cani suggests marketers adopt.

​Sept. 26, 2017

In her career as a global marketer, Lapiz’s Luciana Cani brings small-market ingenuity to major market brands

Lapiz, a unit of Leo Burnett, bills itself as a marketing agency that uses outside perspectives to challenge established beliefs and create the unexpected. In Luciana Cani, the agency’s senior executive creative director, there is no better example of that mission.

Cani joined Lapiz in May 2016, integrating her international touch to the organization’s work. The Brazilian native previously worked for nine years as a leader of Leo Burnett Lisbon and leads creative for Lapiz’s Mexico Tourism account globally, Purina Dog Food for all of Latin America and the U.S. general market for Advance Auto Parts. She also manages a portfolio of digital Hispanic advertising for Kellogg’s, Marshall’s and Allstate.

One of the more recent international campaigns Cani led was the creation of the “Tequila Cloud” to promote Mexico tourism in Germany. The agency used ultrasonic humidifiers to vibrate tequila at a frequency that turns it into visible mist. When condensed into liquid form, it falls as raindrops.

Now located in the company’s Chicago offices, Cani can speak to the benefits of combining small-market resourcefulness with large-scale coordination.

Q: What are some of the main differences you’ve noticed between the U.S. and other countries where advertising and marketing are concerned?

A: When I moved to Europe, I faced a completely different reality from where I started my career in the U.S. and Brazil. Portugal is a small country and not a lead market for many global projects. I found the most interesting creative opportunities with local clients.

Creativity was the best solution for small budgets. Lack of resources created the perfect opportunity to be more hands-on in the process. It helped me to be more flexible, more collaborative and more of a process challenger. 


 Tequila Cloud


Q: What do you think you bring to the job that some of your other American colleagues perhaps overlook?

A: Flexibility and collaboration are the two things that define my way of working. I don´t approach each project the same way. Besides that, some of the titles that exist in the U.S. don’t exist in other countries. This fact helped me to work in a less hierarchical way. I truly believe in flat organizations where the power is decentralized.

Q: Your career has involved work around the globe. What are some of the keys to thinking globally as a marketer?

A: Be open to learning from other cultures. Thinking globally doesn’t mean finding a universal truth or concept that can be applied everywhere. It’s important to understand the subtle differences that will make a global insight relevant locally.

Q: The “Tequila Cloud” promoting Mexico tourism in Berlin seems like the ultimate cross-cultural campaign. How did you marry these two cultures for the promotion?

A: We researched German behavior and culture before we came up with this idea. We found out that Germany holds the second spot among the largest exporters of tequila in the world. Germans love to travel and hate the rainy winter season in their country. With this data, we combined something Germans love the most with something they hate the most: tequila and rain. We created a cloud that rains tequila to promote sunny Mexico.

Q: What can American marketers learn from other marketers around the world?

A: A resourceful mentality. In countries where you don’t have big budgets to implement ideas, you don’t always have the team you should have, and the mentality is, “Let’s make it happen.” I learned a lot working with my team like that to overcome difficulties.

Q: What U.S.-specific qualities can American marketers working in other countries bring to the job?

A: Process, organization and the capacity to manage complex projects. Due to the size of the market, almost every project here is big. Usually, it takes months from conception until the final work, and this process involves many people at different stages. I’m impressed by the flow of the process and also by how you have so many interesting resources to tap. For someone that came from a resourcefulness mentality, it is amazing having so many specialized professionals at every single stage of the process.

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Author Bio:
Sarah Steimer
Sarah Steimer is a staff writer for the AMA's magazines and e-newsletters. She may be reached at or on Twitter at @sarah_steimer.
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