E.g., 06/07/2020
E.g., 06/07/2020

How Transcreation And Creative Adaptation Help Build Locally Relevant Global Campaigns

By: Louie Chow, Consultant, Global Creative Services - Venga Global

25 May 2016

When Coca-Cola unveiled its new global campaign earlier this year, all eyes were on how the internationally iconic brand would go about consolidating all of its products under one worldwide umbrella. Coke’s new tagline – “Taste the Feeling” – aims at providing a global platform from which local campaigns can be built. If this unique international marketing drive is to succeed across different cultures, interpreting the essence of “Taste the Feeling” remains Coke’s biggest challenge.

Why Effective Transcreation and Creative Adaptation are Essential

Transcreation addresses the challenges involved in successfully adapting marketing messaging. While this means very different things to different clients, it’s important we clarify our definition. For us, transcreation requires ensuring that any marketing content is successfully adapted for local markets and resonates with target consumers there.

Rather than just translating words, it’s essential we address cultural differences and adapt our tone of voice and visual language to each local market. Ultimately, reviewing targets’ attitudes, aspirations and other psychographics will all help to enhance local messages’ appeal.

If an ad campaign is to effectively engage target consumers, we must do far more than simply avoid obvious cultural pitfalls such as expressions that are meaningless when translated literally or using colors or gestures with negative connotations.

Here are some techniques to consider when transcreating and creatively adapting ideas.

Translate the Concept and Not Just the Words

Copywriters working on the Coke project outlined above should refrain from simply trying to translate the words “Taste the Feeling” and instead understand the thinking and strategy behind the campaign as a whole. This particular global platform’s primary objective is to contribute to the client’s “one brand” approach across all Coke products. Further evolving last year’s “Choose Happiness” themeline, the message ultimately strives to encapsulate the wide variety of tastes Coke’s multi-product portfolio offers. In order to work, the line must enable each product to tell a universal story that reflects both the functional (taste) and emotional aspects (feeling) of the Coke experience. Capturing these aspects in a unique way in each language remains the key challenge.

Coke’s previous “Open Happiness” tagline was adapted across slightly different variations for various foreign markets. In Spain and Colombia, the line read “Destapa la felicidad”, and emphasized the active word “open” as “uncapping”. In China, the tagline “畅爽开杯” implied “happiness” with the added meaning of refreshment. Coke gave other local markets the flexibility to interpret the tag with stories that were equally relevant to their own cultures.  

Adopt a Holistic View

As a tagline, strapline or slogan must summarize a campaign’s core idea, its context is critical and such messages should never be adapted in isolation. Copywriters must consider how the line will be applied across the campaign and in different channels such as print, TV commercials, digital, outdoor and social. Only when leveraging a holistic approach will copywriters be able to come up with truly broad expressions that will prove effective regardless of where their messages appear. Taglines must also work hand-in-hand with visual elements. In the case of Coke’s new campaign, this includes over 100 images for various multi-channel executions. At their January 2016 launch, Coke released six TV spots showcasing different themes across different cultures. With the “Taste the Feeling” campaign set to roll out globally between now and 2017, this is just the beginning.

To date, the “Taste the Feeling” tagline has been adapted fairly consistently across different markets including Spain (“Destapa la felicidad”) and Turkey (“TadınıÇıkar”). Such an emotional journey is ultimately sure to resonate with different cultures in different contexts.

Capitalizing on transcreation’s ability to transform and execute global messages in locally relevant ways across any given channel, you can help your client’s brands or products to achieve similarly high levels of consistency.

The Integrated Approach

Translation, transcreation and creative adaptation are just a few ways you can bring your brand closer to your target audiences in your desired markets. A good localization agency should work with their clients to implement a seamlessly integrated marketing approach that ensures the right tactics are applied with the right content. It is ultimately just not possible to use a “one-size-fits-all” process.

Louie Chow

Louie Chow, VP of Global Creative Services at Venga Global, was formerly Creative Director at global network agencies including J. Walter Thompson, Foote Cone and Belding, and D’Arcy Worldwide. He has worked internationally and has developed a global range of creative services within creative consultancies and production/implementation agencies. He has created campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands across different categories including technology, banking and finance, travel and leisure, fast moving consumer products, fashion, and lifestyle. In his spare time, he is a regular contributor to publications in Asia on culture and the Arts.