Monday, May 12, 2008

My favorite "translation" mistakes

While on the topic of translation faux pas, here are some of my favorite mistakes....

1. The Dairy Association's huge success with the campaign 'Got Milk?' prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention the Spanish translation read "Are you lactating?"

2. Coors put its slogan, 'Turn it Loose', into Spanish, where it was read as 'Suffer from Diarrhoea'.

3. Clairol introduced the 'Mist Stick', a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that 'Mist' is slang for manure. Not too many people had a use for the 'Manure Stick.

4. When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class seats in the Mexican market, they translated their 'Fly in Leather' campaign literally, which meant 'Fly Naked' (vuela en cuero) in Spanish.

5. KFC's famous 'finger lickin' good' strapline went terribly wrong in the Chinese market. It was literally translated as 'eat your fingers off'.

Whats in a name?

Translation faux pas in marketing are legendary...and as new products continue to enter this globalized world it’s not uncommon to hear of brands running into such quandaries

The latest to join the list is the Microsoft mp3 player Zune. Launched to compete against the IPOD, Zune found itself in a linguistic pickle when launching in Canada. Turns out Zune sounds like a French-Canadian term ‘zoune’ used as a euphemism for penis or vagina."

Interestingly, the naming firm responsible for Zune, which uses 80 linguistics in 39 countries to catch such double entendres, claims that they were well aware of this likely translation as was Microsoft and this was a deliberated decision which took into account the possible impact. In this case, the likely translation was a not very popular French Canadian slang, and so Microsoft didn’t expect it was cause much more than a few giggles and at the most of couple of articles/posts in the media/blog universe— A calculated move that seems to have paid off for Zune and Microsoft.

I don’t envy such a conundrum though – considering there are around 6700 languages in the world, never mind the dialects and slangs. So as a marketer, when looking into possible translation trouble, don’t go in thinking you will be able avoid it all. What is more important is that you identify potential issues, analyze the scope and possible impact…and then decide whether or not to proceed.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Keeping up with the trends

For those who may not read every marketing magazine and academic journal, an easy way to be in the know it to look out for the annual list of marketing buzzwords. Not only does it make for entertaining read, it’s also very indicative of what is more relevant

According to SEO space, for 2008, the top 10 marketing buzzwords are:

1. User Intent
2. Branding Integration
3. Return or ROI
4. Universal
5. Integrated Marketing
6. Mobile Marketing
7. Lead-Gen
8. Blended Search
9. Engagement
10. Reputation Management

Not surprisingly, most buzzwords are linked to online and interactive marketing... What did surprise me was having reputation management as a top 10 word.

Rules of Intergration

We all know that integration of a brand's message across all outreach platforms make the message stronger and stickier. But is integrating only about extending a message/creative to other platforms?

In most cases, integration, while a common word in a marketer’s vocabulary, gets implemented as an afterthought. Only once the TV commercial or print ad is developed does the marketer start thinking about extending it on to an online banner or outdoor advertising.

Effective integration, however, happens when ideas are integrated at the core. And the execution is not just about extending creative and forcing it to fit different formats but building creative that works gracefully between multiple platforms. The idea is for not everything to say the same but to understand how the consumer consumes media and messaging and then leverage these platforms to build a story…