A mini-thought on how to reach consumers

by Havi Goffan

Consumers have changed. They are more educated, more knowledgeable. They have less time to pay attention to your message -be it on TV, radio, or your packaging at the supermarket aisle- and many more offers to evaluate.

All we needed to do before was to know when and where to reach them… Now, we need to understand what they are doing, how and when they are doing it, and how they would prefer the message to be delivered. Above all… we need to deliver a true message (with pros and cons) of what the product or service is all about. Listen to what is said back and continue the conversation…

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love this quote!

love this quote!

Microsoft commercial – what were they thinking?

by Claudia Havi Goffan

Microsoft should really think before approving a commercial like the one featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfield. That is, unless their tactic is to alienate the Hispanic community.

The Microsoft commercial is riddled with Hispanic stereotypes. First, the “churro” (would that be a metaphor for moist and juicy for Hispanics?), then the “Conquistador” (would that be the shoe or a Bill Gates allegory?), and third, the Hispanic family eating churros – of course, mother, father and three children – staring from outside of a shoe discount store.

To top it all off, the English phrase, “they run tight” is poorly translated into “ellos van apretados” in an attempt to convey that the shoe runs a size smaller and that both Bill and Jerry are friends (???) – Bill, do you (or your agency or your marketing department) even know what “ellos van apretados” means in Spanish? It’s not even close to the English version! If you are referring to the shoes, you could transliterate it into “son talles mas pequeños” and if you are referring to the closeness between the two characters, it could be “son muy amigos”.

Microsoft commercial – what were they thinking?

I am not even going to discuss about the ad credibility factor because, how believable is that Bill or Jerry shop at a shoe discount store? Or for that matter, that Bill Gates buys “pleather” shoes? Or that you would be able to eat an operating system?

Microsoft, you missed the mark and offended a large percentage of your Hispanic target market.

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Can you see the elephant in the room? ;)

Can you see the elephant in the room? 😉


Many uses of soccer in commercials

by Claudia Havi Goffan

Have you ever wondered about the versatility of soccer in commercials? Well… we did. Here are a few brands that use soccer in their commercials very cleverly. We will start with the most expected uses for soccer and finalize with the most original ones. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

every time you manage to find humor in a situation you win

every time you manage to find humor in a situation you win

Nike and a sci-fi spy twist

Adidas – nothing is impossible

A couple of children play the soccer game of their dreams. Best use of soccer in commercials ever!

another use of soccer… Isenbeck… anti official sponsor

Super original idea to advertise yourself as the “anti” official sponsor especially if you don’t have the budget!

Brazil Autralia is coming up. So we decided to unite our cultures to achieve a common goal and say: Jump, jump, jump, little kangaroo, because we are going to bust the Brazilian’s …. Let’s celebrate with an Isenbeck for 2 pesos. Because you are not going to celebrate Brazil’s misfortune with a PIP beer sold by the Brazilians, right? Isenbeck, anti official sponsor of the Brazilian team

Commercial Direct TV

No need for words—this commercial taps into the Latin American man’s heart—first, soccer and then family, just kidding

Child’s Trust Fund—ever thought they could use soccer like this?

Let us know if you like them and feel free to send us links to your favorites!

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5 company mishaps in Spanish Language by Sandra Bravo

by Claudia Ahaviah Goffan

TL: Can you give us examples of company mishaps when it comes to the Spanish language, which ones come to mind?
Sandra: Hewlett Packard caused some controversy in Argentina when they introduced their products in that market. Their logo bears only the initials “HP”, and to an Argentine, it translates into the abbreviation for “Son of a #@%#”

Have you heard of the Mazda Laputa (the streetwalker, to put it mildly) or the Nissan Moco (mucus) or the Mitsubishi Pajero (this one is too strong to translate in a public medium) later renamed Montero? Do you wonder why these names are culturally offensive in Spanish? If you are still in doubt, ask your best Latino friend…

5 company mishaps when it comes to the Spanish language

5 company mishaps when it comes to the Spanish language

Ignoring culturally appropriate contexts can get your company into some trouble. For example, some Muslim countries banned Pokemon in 2001 because cards apparently contained some “Zionist” symbols. Or Google, that received a complaint from the Government of Taiwan when the map engine identified the country as a “province of China.”

TL: Can you tell me when companies have done it right and why?
Sandra: One of the many reasons why I love to bank at Washington Mutual is the way they reach at the Hispanic community. It is not just the fact that they have tellers who are bilingual. Most importantly, the translation of their marketing materials clearly reflects the Latino culture. It is about diversity. It is about communicating with clients in their own language – and very well written, by the way!

Another company that has embraced diversity is Comcast. The dynamic and upbeat style of their promotional flyers in Spanish, for example, is very eye-catching. Comcast has found out a way to reach the Latino market. Why? Because they understand it is not just getting the language right, but rather the culture. Comcast ads speak about family, kids and parents and time for friends.

TL: What’s the difference between translation and transcreation?
Sandra: In marketing and advertising, words do not just have meaning within a particular linguistic context but rather within a specific culture. Translating words from one language to another, as good as the translation may be, would not do much for your marketing materials. What you actually need is to have them transcreated. So, what is transcreation?
It is a creative process where a person uses the original text and creates a bicultural and bilingual version in a target language. For example, a company wants to sell medical equipment in Latin America. What would be the main advantages for them to have their brochures transcreated in Spanish?

  • The products and services provided by the company would be clearly and easily communicated to the intended market
  • The consumers would perceive the brochures as if they had been originally created in that market, therefore, they would be more ready to accept the products

Transcreation, like copy writing, persuades a consumer to buy a product or use a service.

TL: How does your company differ from the others? What makes you unique?

  • Our company is owned and operated by translators who have a direct knowledge of the business by working with clients in different industries and fields.
  • All our translators are native speakers, they have been certified and they pursue continuing education.
  • We establish long-term working relationships with our clients. For this reason, we are able to understand their needs and meet their expectations.
  • Our translators, our Project Manager and the end-client work together as a team. There is a constant and direct flow of communication during a particular assignment, e.g. to consult terminology with the company.
  • We do not choose randomly a translator for a particular project. If our client is a bank, we will assign it to a translator who has experience in and is aware of the financial and banking terminology.
  • We have established a quality assurance procedure. We never accept any rush or large project or any assignment outside of our areas of expertise that may compromise the quality of the final product. For example, one day we received a call from a company that was interested in translating 85,000 words for the next day. We politely refused the offer. We explained to them that the only way we might be able to finish the project in time would be to assign it to many different translators. However, the reviewer would not have any time to create a glossary, coordinate and edit the entire work in such short period of time. Since the final results would be less than acceptable for our quality standards, we preferred to not take the assignment.

TL: What advice would you give companies looking for transcreation services to avoid these company mishaps?
Sandra: Transcreation is a creative process that requires a constant interaction between a company and their language service provider. Before the start of the project, it is advisable to conduct a brainstorming session with your provider and discuss some important points:

  1. What the corporate culture is;
  2. What the expected results of their marketing campaign are; and last, but not least,
  3. What the target audience/market is. For example, launching a marketing campaign in Spanish in Mexico will significantly vary from another one in Colombia because both the language regionalisms and the cultures are different.

If you want your transcreation to be accurate and successful, your company will need to clarify any jargons that the marketing department may use, or some specific business concepts. In order for your provider to get it right, they need to understand your needs and expectation.

I believe that the worst nightmare for any linguist is when a client calls and says: “By the way, I asked my customer representative Jose who is from Mexico to review your translation. He says it has some errors.” So my reply is: “Great! If Jose is an expert in the Spanish language, maybe you should get him to organize your translation department.”

Jose may speak Spanish well but, does he have the technical writing skills to do the translation? Is he sufficiently bicultural to work on a transcreation? And the answer is: “No, stick to what you know!” The final results would be as bad as if I started working as a lawyer just because I know enough legal terminology.

I have lost count of how many times I have ended editing or redoing a translation done by someone bilingual in a company. I have spent so many hours dealing with those awkward, obscure and confusing texts that are neither Spanish nor Spanglish… I wonder what they are. Maybe we need to coin a new name for that kind of language…

TL: How can people contact you?
Sandra: Our company can be contacted by phone at 404-327-8815 or by email at intlangsolutions@bellsouth.net. You can also visit our website, http://www.international-language-solutions.com/.

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if you understand everything you must be misinformed - Japanese Proverb

if you understand everything you must be misinformed – Japanese Proverb

Cultural differences: its impact on Customer acquisition and retention

by Claudia Havi Goffan

A close look at how Cultural Differences impact Customer Acquisition and Retention Strategies.

When I arrived to the U.S., 18 years ago, I opened a checking Account with Bank of America. It was obvious. The name, Bank of America, carried in it a familiarity that no other bank did. I, too, was born in America, the continent of America. What people do not know is that in Latin American schools teach you that America is a single continent divided into three parts, North, Central and South America. This is the reason that you may have heard Latinos say: “we are American too.” Back to my story, Bank of America, one; other banks, zero.

It is essential for people in business to understand Cultural DifferencesA few months later, and having maintained what I thought was an excellent relationship with the bank, I decided to fill out an application for a credit card, “the Bank of America VISA.” After three long weeks, I received a letter stating that my application had been denied without a reason given. I got really upset and went to the bank to let hell loose. I had been a wonderful customer and had more than enough money in my account—and they knew it- in order to respond to whatever spending limit they could give me. The answer was: “You need to call Visa, we (Bank of America) don’t have anything to do with this.” I immediately called Visa and was told that my request had been denied because I didn’t exist. “Didn’t exist? But here I am, I exist,” was my response with utter disbelief. The lady explained that I didn’t have a credit history. Until then, I never knew a credit history existed. No such concept existed in my home country where people purchase a home with cash and they don’t pay their bills with checks, as they will get “lost” in the mail (but that’s a different story and the beginning of more cultural differences). In the end, I realized that I wasn’t going to get my credit card with Bank of America or VISA. What a disappointment. And, what an insult to tell me I didn’t exist.

I decided to fill out an application with American Express. Two weeks later, a person from American Express called me at home and wanted to know why they couldn’t find any credit history on me. Now, that’s service! I told her I had lived in the U.S. for just a few months. She replied: “Perfectly understandable. You will receive your card in the mail within 2 weeks.” Needless to say, I never forgot my experience with VISA or with American Express. I have been a loyal customer of American Express since 1991, always preferring to use my AMEX to any other credit card.

Lesson to be learned: Listen to your customers. Cultural differences may be found where you least expect them. You may get lucky the first time, the second time around, you’d better know what you are doing.

Customer Acquisition and Retention Efforts

A bit of background on the Latin American financial system

The concept of a credit history was introduced only a few years ago in Latin American countries.

There are financial infrastructure obstacles common to the Latin American region, such as uneven income distribution, low penetration of the banking system, low computer usage, and very famous “informal” economies that function only in cash. Remittances from family members abroad only increase the number of cash transactions.

The banking crisis of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela in the late 1990s enabled a large financial reform and the modernization of the financial infrastructure. One of the changes was the adoption of credit history.

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Thought of the day

you think you are smart until you try to turn on someone else's shower

you think you are smart until you try to turn on someone else’s shower

10% of the conflicts are due to difference in opinion and 90% to wrong tone of voice

10% of the conflicts are due to difference in opinion and 90% to wrong tone of voice