The word transcreation – a blend of the words translation and creation – comes to name the process of transferring a creative work / or creative element of a work into another language or culture.
With other words, transcreation is a form of localisation where content is adapted to the target audience taking into consideration specifics as culture customs, slang, vernacular, colloquialisms, and connotation. It is most often used for marketing and advertising purposes for content, such as: video and audio ads, posters, brochures, flyers, comics, websites and other web content.
While transcreation is best summed up as ‘a creative international marketing translation,’ the origin of the term is neither highly creative, nor clear.
One theory suggests that the term was coined in the 1960s to describe the creative translation of advertisement copy; while another – that the term originated some 20 years later in the computer and video game industry when developers figured out that in order to successfully sell their video games on international markets, they should not only translate the written and spoken words used in their games, but should also tailor the storyline and graphics to best match the cultural specifics and expectations of a given market.
Regardless of the industry that coined the term, by the 1990s it was the advertising business to fully adopt it into its terminology, classify it as a service different from normal translation, and popularize it to the masses, turning it into a mainstream concept that was shortly adopted by different countries that, ironically, instead of transcreating the term, decided to directly adopt it as a loanword (the term is most notably popular in China).
The popularity of the term prevented its registration as a trademark in 2010, when UPS Translations – who first developed the term into a specific process for tackling the translation of highly creative language – applied for prolonging their expiring registration from 2000.
Nevertheless, transcreation might still be a word that causes confusion, and obviously so does its definition, as on official one is yet not recorded and accepted by the Oxford Dictionaries.
So instead of citations, today our readers can follow a selection of infamous transcreation failures.
Starting with the US advertising campaign by the Scandinavian Electrolux vacuum manufacturer, stating that: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux,” going through Puma putting a flag of the United Arab Emirates on its sneakers to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the UAE and to end up accepted as a giant disrespect towards local culture and beliefs, and to finish with Pepsi’s slogan, “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation,” released in Taiwan translated as: “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.”