Godfrey is a global marketing agency that provides a wide range of creative, marketing, advertising, and PR services to B2B companies. They were preparing an international advertising campaign for nora®, a major manufacturer of flooring products targeted at architects, builders, and end users in the healthcare, education, and manufacturing fields. Godfrey asked MTM LinguaSoft to conduct a cultural assessment of two central campaign pieces—a full-page ad and a brochure cover—before the campaign was localized.
Calling on its international network of partners, MTM LinguaSoft contracted with in-country copywriters and linguists for the 13 countries to be targeted. They analyzed the existing materials looking for any content that might create issues in light of the local culture. Each analyst evaluated the text of the materials in terms of embedded assumptions that might not be relevant in their culture and for content that might be inappropriate or offensive. They also evaluated the other major components of the pieces: images, color scheme, and language style. Godfrey received written reports for each country detailing any issues found, the rationales for identifying them as issues, and proposed adaptations. On the basis of this input, Godfrey decided to change the color scheme and replace many of the images to ones less likely to be controversial, offensive, and more likely to be meaningful in other cultures. For example, our Chinese cultural consultant alerted us that the image of the caduceus, a well-known symbol of the medical community in the United States, could cause offense in China because the snakes that appear in the image are considering unlucky, poisonous, and unscrupulous. Including such an image in a Chinese ad could have had negative consequences. This step saved their client from the waste of translating and publishing materials that were unlikely to resonate well in many of the targeted cultures.
The countries involved were Austria, Brazil, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, and the UK.