When a client of mine changed jobs and went from a children toy company to a children board-game company, she told me that she couldn’t work with us any more. This was due to strategic alignment, all advertising campaigns were conceptualized and executed out of New York. They were given strict guidelines and had to conform when it comes to localization.
There is nothing wrong with that. A company should have a uniform message to it’s global audience. However, this should not be a rule to be followed blindly. The advertising watchdog of the brand should also heed the religious, cultural and social differences in each country.
Here’s an interesting story to share with you…
In 1961, Procter & Gamble introduced the world’s first disposable diaper. A decade later, P&G imported it’s products to Japan. The advertising team decided to use an advertisement which had been enormously successful in the U.S. market. It should be very familiar to anyone who is well versed in western folklore… an animated stork delivering Pampers diapers to a happy home.
Unfortunately, this cutesy commercial failed miserably when the commercial was dubbed in Japanese. There was nothing wrong with the translation or the voice-over. The Japanese community simply don’t understand why a bird was delivering diapers. There was no folklore in Japan that says a stork delivers baby. Had the advertising team done some research, they might have used a giant peach instead. A 14th century Japanese fable told of giant peaches would float peacefully along rivers and streams to deliver babies to deserving parents. So fruit is the way to go, bird, definitely not.
So, before you bring your advertising campaign international, pause a moment to consider the deeper implications.
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