Advertising Translation, Part#4 – Standardization

In many cases, producing culture-specific ads or translating already existing ads involves large sums of money and a qualified work force. MNCs that do not want to invest a great deal of money in advertising translation are not in the pursuit of long term profits. Although they try to lower the costs, at the same time, they do not want to lose the attention of target audience. They highlight comprehension rather than internalization. The solution to such kind of approach is “standardization”. The motive behind this approach is that consumers share similar needs according to some cultural, economical, regional and linguistic patterns.

Using these communicational and advertising styles, MNCs try to standardize the ads by modifying the original one. This approach takes advantage of the similarities between cultures. They generally use the original ad print or video after translating the slogans and, in some cases, the brand names. The brand names are often kept in its original form to create a strong image. However, in some cases, keeping the original brand names can be hazardous since the pronunciations of them differ from language to language. For example, in China, the name Coca-Cola was first rendered as ke-kou-ke-la. Unfortunately, it was too late when the coke company discovered what the phrase exactly means: female horse stuffed with wax. After this mistake, Coca-Cola researched 40000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent: ko-kou-ko-le. This phrase can be loosely translated as happiness in the mouth (lingo72). This example shows how the phonetic knowledge and cultural awareness of the translator is important. The advertising campaigns ignoring culture and language can result in serious mistakes.

Translating the slogans, the translator should have a control over the language of target audience. The successful translation or standardization of slogans enhances the memorability and the impact of ad campaign. However, a number of MNCs prefer to keep the original brand name and slogan. For example, Adidas, Nike and Nokia use the same slogans under their brand names ignoring the target audience’s comprehension. On the other hand, L’Oréal standardizes its slogan in every language which is originally “L’Oréal, Parce que vous le valez bien”. It is translated into Turkish and English without any interpretation, which means the standardization approach is employed effectively. Considering the L’Oréal example, it may seem that that approach promotes the global image of the product and brand. Nevertheless, it is not the case for most of other slogans. When the advertising companies take advantage of the sound system to simplify memory recall, it gets harder to standardize the same slogan for each target audience. Examples include “If anyone can, Canon can” and “O2, see what you can do” (t, sf189).In both examples, the standardization approach falls short of having the intended memory recall effect on target audience. When standardized (translated literally like L’Oréal example), the slogans lose their alliterations.

Advertising translation part#1

Advertising translation part#2

Advertising translation part#3

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