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Getting it Right, From La La Land to Ad Land.

While La La Land decamps to Cannes for its annual bun fight on the beach, we at WIT thought it’s a chance to draw some comparisons with the glamour and clamour of its other annual media circus, the Advertising Festival Cannes Lions. For both industries, the subtleties of cultural sensitivities can mean the difference between a hit or a miss.

In a globalised world, a brand’s growth is a cross-border and multi-cultural enterprise. Campaigns require more than just the correct language. The brand values and campaign message need to work across cultures too.

Research about consumer behaviour always considers three factors: personal (interests and opinions), psychological (perceptions and attitudes) and social (family, friends, social class, income, education level and social media influence). A campaign targeting an entire country has to consider social norms, values, etiquette, not to mention cultural details based on traditions, religions and cultural beliefs.

Likewise, an international box office success is reliant on all of these factors. Production companies often use cultural consultation to tweak their global releases to make them more appropriate and culturally relevant for local audiences.

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the main character had a to-do-list of things he needed to learn to catch-up with the 21st century. Depending on the country where the movie was being shown, this list was different to fit the cultural references of each audience.

In Disney Pixar's Inside Out, food and sports were changed to fit audiences.

Director Pete Docter explained how they wanted to make sure the complex film about emotions, not only worked domestically, but also for international audiences as well: “We learned that some of our content wouldn’t make sense in other countries,” said Docter in his statement. “For example, in Japan, broccoli is not considered gross. Kids love it. So we asked them, ‘What’s gross to you?’ They said green bell peppers, so we remodelled and reanimated three separate scenes replacing our broccoli with green peppers. (…) We also offered a version with soccer instead of hockey since soccer is huge in so many parts of the world.”

With those 2 examples in mind, let’s take a look at a TV ad campaign that we worked on with Lipton Ice Tea. The original showed:

“A young guy walks hand in hand with his girlfriend along a beach at sundown. The low sun casts long shadows and gives everything a beautiful golden glow.”

We translated the ad into Arabic for the Emirates, advising them to tweak it to suit their target audience, coming up with an alternative using fiancée as opposed to girlfriend.

So, from LA LA Land to Ad land; what are the implications for your content strategy regarding cultural sensitivities? The answer is far reaching, that is why we at WIT offer a Cultural Consultation service. From the moment a bright idea pops into the creatives teams’ mind, they share it with us. We review it and make sure it’s suited for the local target audience according to cultural, social, political and legal criteria. We like to think of it as Targeting groups by knowing individuals.

Here at WIT, we are marketing experts, only working with the crème de la crème of translators. Our cultural awareness will keep your ideas strong relevant and perfectly tailored to their intended audience. With the help of the best transcreators, we’ll guide you through our unique process to make sure that wherever you go, your ideas will shine.


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