November 12, 2008
Adaptation is more than just translation
These are two samples of advertisement produced for world's most famous btand Coca-Cola. One is used for Arab countries and the second one is for America and European countries. Actually, Coca-Cola is very good at adaptating its products on the world market. Some producers do not spend much time and money creating adaptations for foreign audiences. The only thing they do is translating the characters' voices. But as practice shows, it ias bad strategy.
Nowadays Coke is considered to be the world's symbol of globalization beacuse there definitely no country on the Earth where people do not know Coca-Cola logo. But I think it happened not juct because the company is spending tons of money for commercial. It is because they spend it in a right fashion.
In 2003 Coke had three different slogans to promote campaign in English speaking countries: "Real" (for US and Canada), "Make it real" (for UK and Ireland) and "As it should be" (for New Zealand Australia). Even if it seems there is no huge difference in cultures between these regions Coca-Cola found them.
But some companies fail when they translate their slogans even in different languages. It happened some years ago when American Airlines wanted to announce that new leather chairs are installed in their planes. The translation of their slogan "Fly in leather" sounded like "Fly nude" because of wrong translation.
The main mistake producers do when trying to adaptate their commerical overseas is that they forget adaptation has to do more with interpretation than with translation itself. To make foreign public love your products requires deep understanding of local people's cultural values and lifestyles. A can of cold soda in the sand is something what is so understandable for citizens of Arabic countries who are surrounded with deserts. A Santa coming to your house on Christmas Eve is more European stereotype of holiday and, hence, the symbol of happiness.
The slogans of the same product can have different word content in different languages. The main point here is to be sure the idea, but not just the words are transferred in a right way.