Skift Take

IHG is in both a precarious and somewhat perfect position to pose such a question: It's a multinational company that's profited handsomely from globalization, but its continued success relies on it serving as a gateway to unique local cultures untouched by massive enterprises.

“I think it’s dangerous to set up these false dilemmas: Is it global or is it local?” says Larry Light, Chief Brands Officer at InterContinental Hotels Group.

Light is speaking at the third “Future of Local” discussion at the InterContinental Time Square where a small group of IHG employees and media are listening to four speakers hash out the meaning of local and globalization and the impact multinational corporations have on communities.

The initiative, led by IHG and its two-year partnership with the TED community, is part publicity driver and part grassroots branding. And telling from the reaction of Light, it’s also part of an authentic education for the 67-year-old brand.

Asking what the future of local is and where local communities fit into an increasingly globalized world leads to timely conversations; especially as global brands like Starbucks and McDonalds, where Light once led branding,  pop up in the most remote corners of the earth and the Internet makes the world more accessible than ever before.

The New York City event was the last of three similar discussions, which were also held in Singapore and Amsterdam. This particular panel starred Daniel Raven-Ellison, National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Greg Harper, president of Harpervision, Griffin Dooling, President of TEDx NYU, and Larry Light.

The crux of the debate, which turned surprisingly heated, pegged Raven-Ellison’s calls to explore a city and its offerings without preconceived notions against Harper’s obsession with technology that allows travelers to curate their experiences to taste.

Unfortunately, the full conversation is not available on video, but the below clip highlights some of the best quotes and gives viewers a better idea of the concepts IHG is looking to explore with the project.

The original video released at the start up the campaign, starring Daniel Raven-Ellison, is below:

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Tags: intercontinental hotel group, local, national geographic, videos

Photo credit: Looking up at the global brands that watch over Times Square. Ludovic Bertron / Flickr