Advertising transcreation vs. localization
What is advertising transcreation and how can you use it effectively for your global business?
What is transcreation and how does it differ from translation? With your standard literal translation, it’s all too easy to make blunders as it doesn’t consider the cultural and societal complexities of a language, something that can wreck even the largest company’s marketing strategy. You could address this problem with cultural localization but sometimes a more flexible approach is needed to adapt the message. This is where advertising transcreation comes in.
What is transcreation?
Think of transcreation as elevating translation to another level. Transcreation changes and adapts a text so that it is in line with the language, tone, style, and culture of the market it is targeting. So it’s not a literal translation, as it won’t read or say the same thing, but rather it will carry the same meaning or context.
Ways transcreation differs from translation
Translation tries to preserve the exact meaning of the text whereas transcreation adapts and changes that meaning to suit a different cultural context.
Transcreation is used when there are major culture adaptations required to make the content relevant to a culture or region where it is going to be marketed.
Transcreation requires more than just one skill set.
It requires a quality translation as well as copywriting and copy editing to ensure that the translated work is relevant to the marketing strategy for its target market. That is why it’s important to have linguistic testing & localization services for your global marketing strategy.
The content of your brand or business will determine whether creative translation or regular translation is the best choice for your marketing strategy.
For example, legal documents might require a literal translation whereas advertising content, such as website localization or eLearning translation is often best suited for transcreation.
8 effective advertising transcreation examples
While there are many examples of how translation and transcreation can go wrong, what about the ways it’s been done right? If you’re looking for inspiration here are eight exceptional examples of successful transcreations.
“Put a Tiger in Your Tank.”
This is one of Esso’s original slogans and it’s still popular today despite it originally appearing in 1959. It was a massive campaign that was immensely successful. What made waves was the innovative ways this slogan was marketed internationally. For example, Esso used transcreation in a creative way for the Italian market. While they initially wanted to try and stay literal with the translation, which would have had the slogan appearing like this,
“Metti una tigre nel tuo carro armato” (Put a tiger in your tank)
However, this literal translation lost the alliteration from the English slogan so to give it more impact, Esso opted to change the slogan to,
“Metti una tigre nel motore” (Put a tiger in the engine)
This was a clever move from the interpreter translator as the word engine translates as motore and the “or” sound mimics the roar of an engine. It also managed to keep the catchy alliteration that was present in the English slogan too.
Apple iPod Shuffle
While iPod shuffles are no longer relevant to today’s fast-changing technology, they were very popular at the time of their release. The tiny MP3 player carried a simple but effective slogan, “Small Talk”. The slogan emphasised how small the device was but also its effectiveness. While it would be easy to assume that this simple slogan would be a basic one to translate, it created a lot of trouble for Apple as the phrase itself is an idiom in the English language. Idioms are generally specific to one culture or language and carry a figurative meaning, so they’re not easily literally translated, and, in this case, the slogan often lost all meaning when directly translated.
Wanting to ensure the same message reached the world, Apple decided to transcreate their slogan for each individual market. Here are some of the best examples of Apple’s transcreation process,
- European Spanish: “Ya sabe hablar” (Already knows how to talk).
- French: “Donnez-liu de la voix” (Let him speak)
- Canadian French (Québécois): “Petit parleur, grand faiseur” (Says little, does much)
Each slogan sounds completely different but they all conveyed the iPod shuffle’s capabilities while maintaining the brief and simple tone of the original English slogan.
Swiffer – Procter & Gamble
“When Swiffer’s the one, consider it done.”
The use of rhyming couplets in this slogan made Swiffer’s slogan catchy and memorable while also emphasizing its cleaning power. To maintain the rhyming scheme in this slogan, transcreation was needed for a variety of global markets. Here’s a great example from the Italian transcreation,
“La polvere non dura, perché Swiffer la cattura”
(The dust doesn’t last, because Swiffer catches it)
The rhyming portion was maintained and shifted to the second part of the slogan and it still emphasised the effectiveness of the product.
“Just do it.”
Arguably one of the most memorable and successful marketing slogans of all time is Nike’s “Just do it”. Another simple slogan that, sadly, does not translate very well. While Nike’s slogan is so well recognized now, its English translation will often be included in Nike’s advertising along with additional transcreated slogans that convey the brand’s meaning for that region.
In 2011, Nike used 用运动 in one of its advertisements which roughly translates to “make sport” or “have sport” and it was a much more culturally relevant way of conveying the same brand meaning to the Chinese market.
“Haribo makes children happy, and adults too.”
These delicious German gummy sweets can be found just about anywhere in the world thanks to their successful advertising transcreation. The original German slogan is,
“Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso”
This translates to English as “Haribo makes children happy, and adults too”. While this literal translation worked for the English speaking market it needed to be transcreated for other languages and areas. For example, in Italian its slogan says,
“Haribo è la bontà che si gusta ad ogni età”
(Haribo is the goodness that can be tasted at any age)
This brilliant transcreation created a playful and nostalgic slogan that was easy to say and remember.
Selling an image…
Red Bull is another product that can be found just about anywhere. Yet how did this product become so successful? Red Bull isn’t exactly known for its taste and it doesn’t have as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, so what is it about this product that makes it irresistible for consumers?
It’s not the product that sells or even its catchy slogan, it’s the creative image that Red Bull has created for it. Red Bull exudes a larger-than-life image and has associated itself with promoting extreme sports, events, and athletes. The slogan, “Red Bull gives you wings” is meant to instill a sense of self-worth and the belief that you can do anything.
Red Bull is so effective at transcreation that it even altered its branding and product when launching in mainland China. If you buy a Red Bull on the mainland you will find it’s likely not carbonated and that it will be in red and gold packaging, auspicious colours within Chinese culture.
“I’m lovin’ it.”
The top contender for the most memorable advertising jingle would have to be McDonald’s’ “I’m lovin’ it.” I bet you’re singing it right now… However, this masterful slogan wasn’t the easiest to translate when McDonald’s took it globally. The biggest issue is the word ‘love’ as there are many other languages in which it does not translate the same way, isn’t used the same way, or just doesn’t even exist, like in China. To address this in China McDonald’s went with,
“我就喜歡” (I just like it)
This Chinese slogan is the same loving message about McDonald’s food while catering to the cultural nuances of the Chinese market.
“Sponsors of tomorrow”
Intel created this slogan to show their commitment to pushing the boundaries of new technology, however they encountered issues in translating it for the Brazilian market as it didn’t carry the same meaning. Intel transcreated their slogan to,
“Apaixonados pelo futuro” (In love with the future)
While not quite the same as the English version it still highlights Intel’s innovative aims for technology.
Want to transcreate your business as well as these ones have? Into23 has all your international translation solutions to help take your marketing strategy to the next level. Whether it’s localization and translation services, marketing translation services, eLearning translation services or more, Into23 has the translation professionals you need to help convey your brand’s message. Get a free quote today!