MTM LinguaSoft partnered with the Wordsmithie team to adapt an international marketing campaign for the electronics manufacturer Plantronics.  It was our role as language services partner to translate and localize a series of 25 sub-headlines for ten different markets and languages.

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The campaign

Compound word headlines were created using the suffix “-WARE” to communicate the wearable utility of the Plantronics headsets, both for work and leisure.  Each headline was followed by a sub-head or phrase to extend the concept. For example, FOCUSWARE:  A better way to hear and be heard.”

For each region, the content would lead with the headline in English followed by the subhead in the local language.  MTM LinguaSoft drew on our network of translators and copywriters to coordinate in-country transcreation teams. For each headline, each team provided two foreign language versions of the subhead, a literal back-translation for each, and a rationale (in English) for why certain phrases were chosen and why each should resonate with the target market.

Our French Canadian localization of the WARE campaign.

“Listen and make yourself heard”

For example, for the above subhead, our French Canadian team suggested “Écoutez et soyez entendu,” literally “Listen and make yourself heard,”  explaining that “In this context, the verb ‘écouter’ (listen) must be used instead of ‘entendre’ (to hear), which is more passive. The play on words is therefore lost. However, ‘se faire entendre’ (to be heard) has the same double meaning as it does in English, that is, to be heard and understood.” With this explanation, the client could be certain that the foreign language copywriter had considered the cultural associations of different versions of the concept “to hear,” and used each in an intentional way to capture the tone of the original.

“Beat our very best”

In some cases, the original headline could be translated literally and carry the same associations in the foreign language. In others, adjustments were made to suit cultural preferences. For example, our Chinese team recommended that the English headline “Beat your personal best” should be rendered as “Beat our very best” because “‘Our’ works better here than ‘you’ does in the Chinese business context; ‘we’ sounds more humble than ‘you.’”

Once the translations, back translations, and rationales had been completed (500 in all:  25 subheads, 2 versions of each, in ten languages) the end-client’s native-language sales teams in each foreign market evaluated the work. The folks who were familiar with both the product and the culture needed to confirm that the headline would resonate with customers. Although we had planned two rounds of revision after the initial submission, we were gratified when the client’s internal review teams were happy with the first iteration.

Transcreation goes global

This project perfectly illustrates the scalability of “transcreation” services. The client’s goal was to craft a global campaign; the branding, basic concepts and design elements were consistent across markets but the details remained attuned to the preferences of each language group. In addition, the project demonstrates the importance of working with writers who are not only bi-lingual but bi-cultural. Our teams could grasp the finer points of the English associations and translate the figurative meaning as well as the literal meaning. We are proud of our accomplishments on this project and grateful to Wordsmithie for extending to us the opportunity to work with such rich material.

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