How do you globalize your campaigns?


For every international marketer who successfully brings a cross-cultural campaign global, there are multiple stories of major campaigns that make huge flubs. More than just translation errors, the campaign failures are usually fundamental cultural oversights…everything from taboo topics to unfortunate timing.

Going Global

Such blunders are usually only avoided by having a finger on the pulse or a foot on the street of the culture being courted. Examples abound from the Chevy Nova case (translated as “No Go” in Spanish) to the slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi generation,” translated into Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”

A recent article, A Five-Step Guide to Take Your Campaign Global, from Marketing Profs raises the question: How do you avoid the enormous marketing costs of preparing new creative, photography and design for each new market, but still ensure that the translated materials carry the same impact as the originals?

The answer proposed by Dina Paglia is transcreating rather than translating international marketing and advertising campaigns. She defines transcreating as:

..the process of linguistic and cultural translation that helps companies avoid potential problems from the very beginning. It is a method of naming products and working with catchphrases and idioms across multiple language markets while also maintaining brand and message consistency.

The five steps Paglia outlines include perhaps the most important of all: creating a marketing brief that allows a local agency with linguistic specialists to work closely with the original copy and concepts to ensure the meaning is preserved and message is delivered in the localized version. A teamwork approach between the original creative team and the localization team is the key to success. As with any good cross-cultural team, establishing a consistent process that can be refined and adapted over time is essential. The steps outlined in Paglia’s article are an excellent starting point.

Remember that doing it right from the beginning…by taking the time to establish a process and to follow a step-by-step plan… is always easier and less costly than redoing a mistake.

What examples of cross-cultural campaign “lessons learned” can you share?


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