Mercator vs Peters Projection: A shift in the Marketing Map
The Mercator projection was created to help European sailors navigate the world in straight lines. It has also been the preferred map in schools. It provides a true reflection of the shape of the land masses, so that’s ok…except for the fact that it distorts the size of land masses.
Greenland for instance, takes as much space as Africa, yet the area of Africa is 14 times larger. Compare Greenland to China too. Finland looks wider than India, but in reality, this is not the case. The Mercator map increasingly inflates the size of regions the fur
Then along came the Gall-Peters Map, which claimed to provide an alternative to the Mercator map.
On the Gall-Peters map, the areas of equal size on the map reflect areas of equal size on the globe. So Africa, Brazil, China and India loom larger, and Europe shrinks significantly.
In 1983, Arno Peters said of the Mercator map:
The European world concept…must give way to an objective global concept
He saw the Gall-Peters map as a way of helping to shift perception of the world.
As we now see the political, financial and economic power of Europe waning, and other regions growing in strength, maybe now is the time for the Gall-Peters map to be considered as a fairer representation of the world.
Shifting over to marketing, there are many parallels.
The ‘western’ perspective on marketing, which has dominated since the middle of the 20th Century, could be represented by the Mercator map. Meanwhile, Gall-Peters represents the dynamic re-alignment that has been occurring over recent years in marketing.
London & New York have always held sway as the key centres for marketing services. The Asia-Pacific ‘regional HQ’ was seen as the post to have before getting the big job. As for the job in Latin America, well that was something a European did prior to retiring.
Any European trying to secure a role in Latin America or Asia these days better be good. Really good. Because for some time, the talent from these regions is stunning.
Concepts. Ideas. Vision. All key elements for great marketing that is pouring out of Santiago, Sao Paolo, Singapore, Nairobi and beyond.
Another place where we are seeing a shift to a ‘Gall-Peters’ type marketing perspective is the Awards Ceremony. Once dominated by European and East Coast U.S, we now regularly see the confidence and swagger of Brazil, India, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, China and others at such events, both in the entries and on the judging panel.
Which leads to a third reason for the shift to a new Map of Marketing. Talent. I have met incredible people on my travels. A phemonenal creative director in India, a smart advertising guy in Kenya, a marketing dynamo based in Sao Paulo.
Marketing has been shifting to a Gall-Peters Map for a little while now, for more reasons than the three I mention above.
For those who are living in a Mercator Marketing bubble, it might be time to take a look at the Gall-Peters map and see the marketing world as it really is. Because the days of the old marketing imperialism are long gone.