The purpose of a marketing message is to create an urgency for a product or service that makes viewers want to buy it immediately. In order for a promotion to work in another culture, the entire message – verbal and visual – must be translated in keeping with the spirit of the original. The transcreation process preserves the intent, style, tone, and context of an advertisement when converting it to another language.

For example, when Intel wanted to market its computer chips to Brazil, translators pointed out that its slogan “Intel: Sponsors of Tomorrow” meant something different when translated into Portuguese. The direct translation implied that Intel would not deliver immediately on its promises. So they changed the line to read “Intel: In Love With the Future” for the Portuguese audience, thereby capitalizing on the Brazilians’ more passionate nature.

Pitfalls of Direct Translation

Transcreation as a practice came about as advertisers made serious mistakes that hurt sales in other cultures by translating directly. Here are some of the concepts transcreators address to avoid such pitfalls:

·         Cultural Differences – Nike made a big stir in the Middle East when it first introduced its sports shoes. The Nike symbol is the same symbol used for Allah in Islam, which meant that Arabs walking in Nike shoes were walking on God.

·         Word Usage – Words that are similar in different languages may have very different meanings. When Honda introduced its Fitta model into the Scandinavian countries, it discovered that “fitta” in Nordic languages is a vulgar word. Honda quickly changed the vehicle’s name to the Honda Jazz.

·         Idioms, Puns, Slogans – Marketers always look for puns and slogans they can play off of to make a product memorable. But such words and phrases seldom translate well into another language. Transcreators try to find a different way in the target language to say the same thing.

Cultural Relevance

Advertisers play with emotions. With more and more products being sold worldwide, international companies are having their marketing staff create generic messages that can be tailored locally. Transcreators then modify the content to create local appeal. They may emphasize part of the message that appeals to local interests, diminish whatever might offend, or add an appropriate idiom, local reference, or even a photograph with which readers can better identify.

Dialog One has translators with specific industry and cultural experience. If you are looking for one to transcreate a marketing message, be sure to contact us.