LOST IN TRANSLATION
CAN ONE MARKETING CAMPAIGN MEAN THE SAME IN ALL LANGUAGES AND ALL CULTURES?
Written by Jenna Ottley
Many global companies have tried to run the same campaign in multiple countries and failed. For example, the name Coca Cola, when they tried to break into the Chinese market, ended up with a product that meant “Bite the wax tadpole”: not exactly the ideal drink. They soon learnt their mistake and changed the Chinese characters to mean “Happiness in the mouth”.
When Parker Pen released a ballpoint pen in Mexico they wrongly translated their tagline “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”, thinking the word ‘embarazar’ meant embarrass not impregnate. The ad actually read “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”.
Although these mistakes may seem hilarious, they can actually be devastating to a company’s brand for years and it is not just language mistakes that can be made; not understanding the political, social or religious aspects of a country could damage your product or business. For instance, BMW featured the UAE national anthem in one of their advertisements to create an intense moment, however, the audience felt BMW were suggesting their cars were more important than the anthem, which just caused a negative reaction in the target market.
When Electrolux, a Swedish vacuum cleaner company, tried to run their campaign in America, the slogan boasted “Nothing Sucks like Electrolux”. This may seem grammatically correct, but they didn’t take in to account what the word ‘suck’ in slang terms would mean to an American audience.
International markets are always going to be have a different outlook and therefore your campaigns should be as diverse to match. Many campaigns have been successful in pointing out the differences in cultures such as HSBC's television advertisements to show they recognise and understand the different needs of their customers.
The basic rule of good marketing is knowing your target market.
If you are trying to target everyone you are targeting no one.
Anglia’s aim is to offer and test the English language step by step. It is unique that you can work at your own level. If you are good at English, you will have an extra challenge. If English is a challenge for you? Then you can work on building your confidence with the Anglia step by step system.