Transcreation in the PR and Marketing Worlds

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If you work in the PR, marketing, or advertising sector you will know exactly what transcreation is and will have no doubt experienced the success of a positively transcreated message. For those of you who haven’t, transcreation is the adaption of a message from one language into another, whilst maintaining its intent style, tone and context.


Seeking to transcend the boundaries of culture and language, PR, marketing and advertising companies from across the world are now implementing transcreation into their promotional campaigns and are slowly beginning the realise that transcreation is the more effective option when it comes to marketing their clients brands abroad.


However, like anything, transcreation must be done properly and its disuse can, and has, resulted in some fairly big setbacks for many companies…


1.       Take Honda for example, introducing into the Scandinavian market? The ‘Fitta’ failed to sell. It wasn’t long until someone pointed out that Fitta is a vulgar word for genitals in many Nordic languages. Had the process of transcreation taken place, this would never have happened. In the end, they came up with the ‘Jazz’ which sold a lot better.


2.       Similarly, Intel wanted to launch their “Intel: Sponsors of Tomorrow” campaign to the Brazilian market but if their PR guys had simply translated ‘Sponsors of Tomorrow’ into Portuguese then it just wouldn’t have worked. Why? Well in their language it would have given the idea that Intel would be unable to deliver their promises immediately, i.e. everything would happen ‘tomorrow’. So transcreation was used to create “Intel: In love with the future”(“Apaixonados pelo futuro”). The possible error was avoided and the passionate Brazilian audience loved the message that was created.




3.       A similar problem was experienced by SAAB who had run an American publicity campaign with the headline “Saab vs. Oxygen bars.” This emphasised the idea that their latest car allowed passengers to “experience wide-open spaces.” The campaign worked in America because oxygen bars were popular at the time but when producing copy for PR in Sweden that wasn’t going to be possible because they didn’t have the same cultural relationship with oxygen bars. So instead the PR Company used the Swedish word for claustrophobia “Saab vs. Klausttrofobi”.



Those three examples alone highlight the extreme importance of transcreation in the PR and Marketing world.


If the above companies just used straightforward translation then the new text, in its new environment, would simply not have worked. The target audience would not have appreciated the message in the same way that the original target audience would have.


However, if they had used transcreation, they could have carried the same idea and concept over into their new market, but created a message that appealed more to the emotions of the new target culture, which would have resulted in a more successful, targeted campaign.

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