The Role of the Language Translator In International Promotion Planning

Companies that operate on an international or global level must decide whether or not they need to adapt their promotions.  Many companies have decided to use a standardized overall approach or theme, yet adjust copy, colors, and graphics, and so on for local conditions.  Sometimes, translation services companies are contacted to help with this localization for specific markets.  For instance, a Raleigh Translation Services company was hired to work with brand management with Marlboro.  In the United States, the Marlboro man was a rugged looking white male.  However, the branding team decided that in Latin America, the Marlboro man should appear as a Latin cowboy and in Hong Kong; the character should appear as a rugged individual from the city with a truck instead of a horse.

Very few companies can effectively wage a single worldwide promotion.  Some adjustments in language, graphic portrayal of people and media are usually needed.  At the most basic level, companies may hire a translation service to evaluate product names or package designs.  A vitamin product was introduced into the South American market under the name “Fundavit,” an English modification of terms suggesting that the product satisfied all the recommended daily requirements.  The name had to be changed when objections were raised that the product’s name was too close to a Spanish term used to refer to an attractive female’s rear.

Differences in media availability and literacy mean different media schedules.  If the portion of television households is low, mass marketing will need to find another medium.  In countries where literacy is low, movie theater advertising may be an important medium.  In many countries, the broadcast media are government controlled, and not always available to the marketer.  Different media habits in each country also mean promotion strategy must be adjusted for these differences.

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