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Advertising adaptation: How to make a bigger impact in multiple languages

Published on February 22nd, 2022

If you look at the top global brands, one thing they all have in common is a command of advertising adaptation. We are talking about companies like Mercedes, Nike and Coca-Cola that manage to establish themselves as household names in every corner of the world.

The question is, how do they become as culturally relevant to people in countries like Brazil, India and China, as they are in the US and the UK?

Building global brands with advertising adaptation

Looking back, it is no big surprise that US fast-food giant McDonald’s was adopted by the British public with relative ease after the first UK restaurant opened in Woolwich in 1974. The fast food company simply leveraged the novelty factor of importing a US dining experience to the British Isles and gradually adapted its messaging to suit the expectations and needs of the British public.

The same approach would not necessarily apply for an American burger joint entering the Chinese market in the 1990s, though. Not only was McDonald’s tasked with overcoming a major language barrier, but it also had to adapt its entire brand to connect with the people of China on a cultural level.

This includes a completely different menu, complete with rice dishes, soups and oriental teas, in addition to the more conventional Big Mac offerings.

Brands like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Nike understand the importance of connecting with international audiences on a cultural level and this cannot be achieved by simply translating an ad designed for an entirely different audience.

This is the true premise of advertising adaptation and the key strategy that turns brands into global names.

How does advertising adaptation work?

Advertising adaptation helps you create a single advertising campaign for multiple audiences by adapting elements of the message to address the needs and expectations of each market. A good example for this could be when a car company releases a new line of models across several markets, having the need to launch an international marketing campaign to promote them.

The company may run a series of ads promoting each model, but each of these products may be received differently by each audience.

For instance, audiences in the UK may look at city SUVs in a different light to people living in busy cities like Taipei or Ho Chi Minh City where large vehicles can be more of a burden than a benefit among the endless swarms of motorbikes during the many rush hours of each day.

In this example, the ad for a UK audience may need to place more emphasis on city comfort, convenience and family safety, while the ads for a Vietnamese or Taiwanese audience may require a focus on moving away from the city, highlighting the joys of air conditioning due to the high levels of humidity in these countries. For each ad version, it is of great importance to feature local actors from each country and present a story that reflects the true needs of every single audience separately.

Advertising adaptation, therefore, requires a high level of not just linguistic, but also cultural consultancy and expertise as its core aim is to elicit the same emotional response from each target audience. It achieves this response by adapting messages to ensure they are relevant and compelling to the interests and needs of each target audience.

As part of one of the largest advertising networks in the world, we currently help many global brands on a daily basis with their advertising adaptation requests.

To find out more or to discuss an advertising project with us, please contact us.

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Posted on: February 22nd, 2022