Foreign brands in a local marketplace

When marketing a product, one of every company’s primary concerns will be how they would like their product to be perceived within each target market. Most want the audience to be able to associate and connect with their product, so that they feel an affinity with it and are more likely to purchase.

Brand localisation

As part of their approach, some companies look to make their product more in-line with their target audiences. For example, the creators of ‘The Simpsons’ decided to edit the programme more than the standard subtitling for the Arabic viewers; giving members of the fictional family new names and removing references to alcohol and pork in order to suit the lifestyles of the target audience.

However, not every brand wants to change so much so that their identity is altered; some brands’ strength relies on their “foreign-ness”, and the language they use is proof of this.

For example, Audi have always kept their brand slogan “Vorsprung Durch Technik” in their international campaigns; a large part of the brand’s strength lies in its Germanic routes, which for them is more important than their audience knowing what the company slogan means.

In addition, the recent Armani advertising campaign for their new perfume “Sì”, remained in Italian (“Sì ai sogni, sì alla libertà, sì alla vita, sì al silenzio” etc). In both of these instances, the choice to not provide equivalents in each of their target markets’ language forms part of the wider brand identity.

Advertising mistakes in international markets

What happens though, when a brand makes a decision to use a universal advertising campaign, but doesn’t find out whether every market would receive it well? When Blue Water, a mineral water company, was launched in Russia, they hadn’t realised that when Russians pronounced the company name, it sounded like the slang for “vomit”. Equally, Procter & Gamble once aired a televised advert showing a man entering a bathroom whilst his wife was in the shower. In Japan, this is seen as a huge invasion of privacy and caused some embarrassment to the manufacturing giant.

Within the industry this process is known as Transcreation. Rather than just translating the campaign, the linguists go one step further and ensures linguistic as well as cultural relevancy for every phrase, image, slogan video and concept.

Carrying out a thorough check on whether your universal advertising campaign is globally acceptable is vital to the success of a product.

The financial (let alone brand) impact of printing an incorrect or inappropriate slogan can be huge. Most reputable Language Service Providers offer Transcreation services as well as services such as Global Brand Consultancy, which can be of huge value to the success of a campaign if there is no capacity to carry these checks out in-house.


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