January 28, 2022
Facebook's new Meta joins a long line of advertisers who botched translations in foreign languages. In Hebrew, Meta means dead. Sometimes, these malaprops are just darn funny, like "Nothing Sucks Like an Electrolux."
And staying on theme, fling a few rotten tomatoes at the old Braniff airlines for their "Fly in Leather" campaign for the Spanish-speaking market in southern Florida. Translated into Spanish, it sounds like "Fly Naked." Whoops. Pepsi's "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" translates into Chinese as, "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead." You might brush off these goofs as minor insults, but they show consumers something else: The brand didn't care enough to get it right.
Accurate Language Shows Respect for your Consumer
The advent of the Internet now makes it possible for med-tech and medical device companies to sell worldwide.
American Marketing Association research reveals that "60% of the world's population speaks more than one language. (Source: AMA) Furthermore, Eurobarometer research suggests that consumers respond far more readily to messages in their native languages. It makes sense, right? For example, a BMW ad in German wouldn't make much sense to our audience.
Smart and well-healed marketers can build separate site structures that target consumers speaking different languages. That's the easy part. Getting the copy correct is still a challenge, and it's not cheap. Our number one tip is "don't bank on machine translation," like Google Translate. Even with all the advances in artificial intelligence, it's far from perfect. Our translation workflow works like this: We start by evaluating the copy and rewording idioms that may not translate well. Then we give it to a service, like Berlitz, to create the translation in consultation with our team. The copy is then translated back to English and reviewed by native speakers that fit our target audience. In our opinion, if you can't afford a rigorous translation, leave it in English, or translate parts of the work, like the homepage of your website.