Such is the case of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign and the “Got Milk” commercials. In the last example the literal translation into Spanish would send a completely different message and a quite offensive one, and therefore the translated tagline is Toma Leche. (Drink Milk). There are countless examples of how many of these taglines do not only get butchered but truly get lost in the translation process and for those there are plenty of blog posts on that subject. It is then that companies decide to stick to the original and only translated the copy of the ad alone.
When you are trying to reach one of the fastest growing groups in the US and one with a growing purchasing power that will near 1.5 trillion by 2015, the Hispanic population cannot be blanketed together but rather targeted and catered to as a “group within a group”. The only similarities that binds these groups together are language and family. For this reason, even with the commonality of language there are cultural differences in language that can make some references offensive or even misunderstood. In a Nielsen study on Hispanic consumer behavior, The Hispanic Market Imperative , the growing Hispanic population although acculturating to the American lifestyle, are not assimilating to it. Given that large part of this Latino population is young and fully bilingual, they still find it important to keep the link to their culture and heritage. For this reason, cultural relevancy is of prime importance to this group. Furthermore, the study also found that Hispanics tend to respond to ads that are not only culturally relevant but also speak their language and target their need, a factor particularly important when you are writing marketing copy targeted to specific individual tastes and cultures. These differences may seem simple yet they could not be farther from the truth. As you read in a later post, when you translate taglines for example, the meaning not only gets ‘lost in translation” their result may be truly disastrous. The added value then as a translator would not only be bilingual but also bicultural in order to grasp the nuances of the language the cultural relevance needed to bring the message across. (Even bicultural these practices are a truly difficult task). Although marketers are taking note of this idea, it still does not resonate with many and still tend to use the one size fits all approach. Yet there have been other advertisements that are prime examples of Hispanic Branding that I have included in a future post of the same name.