A commercial for a South Korean home appliance went viral last month, thanks to some painfully awkward translations. Sadly, it’s a case of machine translation gone horribly wrong and Roichen was forced to disable comments on the YouTube video for its product, to put an end to the online mockery, although it continued rather healthily over at Reddit.
The poor machine translation is only made worse by the gleefully ignorant voice over services work that cheerily reels off grammatical heresy with every sentence. It’s worth watching for all the wrong reasons and another example of international advertising gone wrong.
Introducing the ‘Easy Tray’ voice over services
By this point, we know you’re dying to watch the video for yourself so we’ll hold off on the suspense and get right to it. Here is Roichen’s Easy Tray in all its glory:
Who knew pulling out a single jumper from your wardrobe could cause such chaos? Unfortunately, the ingenious solution of carefully loading every single item of clothing into plastic trays (for some reason) fails to amaze when the headline of this show is the unmissable voiceover services translation.
Here are some highlights, in case you missed them:
- “Isn’t there the method to solve?”
- “The organised state is kept as they are.”
- “They are in a mess again even though you organised them hard.”
Yes, there’s nothing worse than a clothes avalanche after all those hours you spent organising them. Thankfully, the Easy Tray solves this problem by allowing you to spend even more time putting your clothes away and getting them out again, instead of just taking them out carefully like a normal human being.
In an age where everyone’s talking about the machines taking over, it’s hard to feel too worried by the overly robotic voice over services and machine translation at work in this advert. Although, whoever the voice over artist is, they deserve some credit for making it all the way through that script with such an optimistic tone. We can’t help wondering how many takes were needed to get through it all without cracking up.
It’s a shame we can’t quote any of the intellectual critique left in YouTube comments as they’ve been disabled by the uploader. There were some good ones in there, for sure, but you can always check out this Reddit thread for a flavour of the public opinion.
What can we learn from Roichen’s Easy Tray?
Well, aside from the dangers of organising clothes, this advert reaffirms all the same lessons we’re used to seeing from marketing translation fails. First of all, don’t use machine translation for content that’s going public – that’s just basic. You should also avoid breaking up the translation and voice over services process because this is a crossover point where errors should be flagged up.
In Roichen’s case, it wasn’t the voice over artist’s responsibility to tell them there are serious problems with their translated text. However, working with a single agency that provides both translation and voice over services means you get protection at every stage of the project. With this kind of agency your voice over artist will flag up any issues and communicate with your translators to resolve any potential problems.
For such a horrendous translation failure to make it through to the published version of Roichen’s ad is incredible. Such poor quality should never have even made it past the translation department but it seems the brand simply went with machine translation and no quality checks whatsoever.
Which brings us to the final lesson: check the quality of your translations at every stage of the process.
Unfortunately for Roichen, nothing could have saved this advert from becoming a translation flop because they approached it from entirely the wrong angle. Essentially, they did everything wrong with the translation and voice over services work on this ad and it’s resulted in a real train wreck. Its brand image has suffered in English-speaking markets and it can only hope the bad press turns out to result in some positive exposure for the company and/or its product. Either way, it’s a risky marketing strategy and it all comes down to the most basic of errors by using machine translation for commercial purposes.