Regardless of what you do or where you live, the odds are that you come into contact with products from a multinational corporation on a daily basis. From ExxonMobil and Unilever to Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, brands that consistently rank among the most recognizable and respected global brands, face the constant challenge to maintain their global profile successfully. Especially because of their size and reputation, global brands must walk the marketing tightrope between developing a global strategy and localizing the implementation of that strategy.
Over the last couple of weeks, the ability to walk this tightrope has been put to the test. During the Super Bowl, Coca-Cola ran an advertisement that featured a decidedly multilingual vision of America. It depicted a variety of people singing “America, the Beautiful” in their multiple, native languages (the song was, in fact, sung in nine different languages: English, Spanish, Tagalog, Mandarin, Hindi, Hebrew, Keres, Senegalese-French and Arabic). From a marketing perspective, the ad was successful because it made the company a major topic of conversation and produced a blaze of publicity. However, the fact that a significant portion of that conversation was critical, demonstrates that Coca-Cola potentially miscalculated the ad’s reception by the American audience.
Advertising, much like politics, is local, and all about forming a connection with your potential market. Moreover, though there will be always some growth in traditional, developed markets, the majority of future growth will be in emerging markets. Below are some projections from the aforementioned companies to illustrate that point:
Unilever, whose products are sold in 190 countries, already estimates that 55% of its sales are made in emerging markets.
McDonald’s increased their number of stores globally by 2.9%, but only 0.4% of those new stores were located in the United States.
Though ExxonMobil projects a modest rise of energy needs in the developed world during the next 25 years, the needs of the developing world are expected to increase by 67%.
In order for any business to take advantage of this growth potential, they need to make a meaningful connection through tailoring their multilingual advertising messages to local markets.
Though advertising budgets for these companies easily surpass the billion-dollar mark, there is still no room for wasteful spending or a misunderstood message. A successful message needs to effectively communicate to a specific audience and address that group’s local culture, customs, and language. Unfortunately, the example of Coca-Cola partially demonstrates what can happen if a message is either misunderstood or, in the case of foreign languages- “lost in translation.”
In order to assure that multilingual advertising campaigns are being correctly localized and effectively applied to the correct target market to yield maximum results, a company should work with a translation services provider that has the skills to provide excellent multilingual marketing translations and the knowledge to best implement multilingual marketing strategies.
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