Lost in Translation!

Please share!

When branding globally, it’s key to understand not only a company’s culture, but their language. Below we investigate seven different marketing blunders that could have been avoided with a more careful approach toward the studying of their target country’s language and culture.

  1. When Pepsi entered the Chinese market it launched with the slogan ‘Pepsi Brings You Back to Life’. Unfortunately, the company failed to realize that the phrase had been translated as ‘Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave’. Not an ideal blunder in a country where reverence for ancestors is an important part of the culture.
  2. When entering China, Coca-Cola first rendered their name as Ke-kou-ke-la. To Coca-Cola’s dismay, many signs had been printed until they realized the phrase could be translated to “bite the wax tadpole,” or “female horse stuffed with wax,” depending on the dialect. Coke eventually found a decent phonetic equivalent, “ko-kou-ko-le,” which can be loosely translated as “happiness in the mouth.”
  3. Electrolux, a Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer, forgot to do their homework when entering the American market. In one of their ad campaigns, they used the slogan “nothing sucks like Electrolux,” not realizing the meaning in American slang.
  4.  When the now defunct Braniff airlines decided they wanted to appeal to first class customers, they created a campaign to promote their leather upholstery in Mexico. Unfortunately the tag line ‘Fly In Leather’ literally translated as ‘Fly Naked’.
  5. Schweppes Tonic Water, when launching their product in Italy, translated their name into Schweppes Toilet Water.
  6. The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, “Salem—Feeling Free,” got translated in the Japanese market into “When smoking Salem, you feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty.”
  7. Coors Light’s ad campaigns are highly popular and admit I get a kick out of watching their goofy commercials.  Coors decided they would use the same popular slogan, “Turn it Loose”, in Spanish to catch the attention of the Hispanic population.  It just so happens that in Spanish this slogan translates to “Suffer from Diarrhea”.  Ouch, that one hurt.  Something as simple as a language translation can quickly kill an ad campaign.
Please share!

How Does Sephora Contours its Brand

Please share!

Women are always fond of having best friends. The female bestie, diamonds, shoes, and bags are among their dearest pals. But, you know what else is considered as a woman’s best friend? Sephora. There’s a reason why we said Sephora and not makeup, it’s because of the distinctive approach that Sephora uses to merchandising that it has become an alternative to the word makeup. Sephora’s branches worldwide have the same store atmosphere that make every lady feels like she’s in heaven. The distinctive uniforms of the staff, their flawless makeup, the nightclub furniture, and the upbeat music create a laid back, consumer empowering atmosphere that isn’t found in any other store.

One of the best things that distinguishes Sephora is the luxury they give to their customers to try high end products without going through the stiff interaction that other beauty counters have. Ladies are given the freedom to hop from brand to brand, try products out at their leisure, get a splash of wow from makeup experts, and get free samples of whatever they want. Isn’t that awesome?

Sephora has its way of finding, and choosing the top emerging brands in the world. Unlike many retailers that have only private label assortments and one product line, Sephora acts as a cosmetic broker and can leverage the most thrilling lines from whichever brands. Also, Sephora’s has core competence exclusively selling exceptional top-brand products. In this commercial, we see that Sephora isn’t solely a makeup store. It is much much more than this. It is a conglomeration of skin care products, hair products, fragrances, brushes, accessories and more.

Among many other things that make Sephora stand out is their designated “Beauty Workshop” stations. Customers can watch tutorial videos and practice with Virtual Artist in order to learn professionally the more complex make-up applications like contouring for example. Furthermore, their mobile application gained a lot of recognition from digital innovation think tank ranking Sephora as top retailer brand.

The app allows users to get alerts about sales, new products, events, and to access the Sephora Virtual Artist. When in-store the user can use Apple Pay, scan a product to learn more about its reviews and ratings, and check how many loyalty reward points a product can give. Last but not the least, Sephora is very known for its gripping loyalty program that offers great awards like products, makeovers, makeup classes, and sampling new products. The program allows consumers to upraise to VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider) or to the VIB Rouge status with great associated benefits.

Please share!

McDonald’s India’s Token Orange Sauce

Please share!

A big portion of Global Branding is product development. McDonald’s, as a global firm, is the king of shaping their product toward their targeted market. In the video below, we get to watch American’s reactions to McDonald’s India. The outcome is quite interesting.

View here.

Chicken Maharaja Mac – Note how some of the main comments were regarding the choice of protein and spices. In the Hindu religion, cows are a sacred animal, making the typical American beef patty a bad choice for entering India. Some of the Americans reacted to the “orange sauce” as having a distinct flavor that they couldn’t quite place.

McAloo Tiki – Many Indians are vegetarian, so potato is quite often used as a substitute for meat. In general, the Americans noted that they couldn’t discern the flavor profile of this sandwich. One American even noted the heavy amount of onion used in this sandwich.

Spicy Chicken Wrap – This McDonald’s India dish is the most similar to America’s menu. The importance of maintaining your brand image must come through in your products. Although many of the reactions contained comments about the elevated spice level of this dish, they definitely noted that the wrap was “American sized” and most likely to be served on the McDonald’s America menu.

McSpicy Paneer – This sandwich is derived from a heavily spiced Indian cheese dish called Paneer. One of my favorite Indian dishes is called Shahi Paneer, which is this cheese in a tomato based curry sauce. The patty here is made of this cheese, which most Americans would find unusual.

Our Comments – Overall, we think that McDonald’s does a great job in developing their product to cater toward the Indian market. A huge part of culture is food, so being able to change to adapt to different culture’s foods is key in McDonald’s Global Branding strategy. Not how the advertising doesn’t change at all. One of our favorite comments from this video was “I still love how they put the Mc in front of everything.” It’s important for McDonald’s to stick true to their branding even after changing their product.

 

Please share!

Intel’s Super Bowl Commercial: Tom Brady Everyday

Please share!

The question of how to be an American is no longer asked on Reddit and Yahoo or answered in the halls of Congress. This question has become better dealt with in the Super Bowl media center and the boardrooms above Madison Avenue. Likewise, the social, cultural, and political intersection of the United States is no longer to be found in Times Square or out on Route 66. It is wherever the Super Bowl is being held. Yes, the NFL shield has become the most enduring, recognizable symbol of America’s greatest assets, values, and traditions. It is one of the very few sports that are so deeply woven into the fabric of American culture. No wonder why it has become a cottage industry for media companies beside Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Intel’s 2017 Super Bowl commercial featuring the New England Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, was a very interesting one, at least for two marketers who hold branding near and dear to their hearts.

Intel used the Super Bowl as a medium of broadcasting their message to the entirety of America, shaping their commercial toward the wants of a classic American. By making Tom Brady look epic doing normal, everyday activities, Intel has essentially conveyed the message that its product will do the same for the viewer and anyone who purchases. This is the staple of the American Dream.

View the commercial here.

“As if Tom Brady needed any more help looking amazing…” the video caption said. Intel presented the four-time Super Bowl champ (five-time champ now) apically brushing his teeth, whipping up a batch of pancakes and eating one off the floor. Making the QB look heroic doing everyday “boring” activities proved that with Intel 360° Technology, you can make anything look epic. Literally anything. That’s the story the tech brand was telling in its 5 million dollar ad. “People typically show the athlete in the uniform and on the field, we wanted to do something different. We’re making these everyday things look heroic and interesting because that’s what our technology does. The idea is, if we can make him look epic brushing his teeth, wait until you see how we can use the technology in the game.” said Steve Fund, SVP and CMO at Intel.

Please share!

Post-Trip Thoughts

Please share!

 

First off, it has been awesome reading my classmates’ posts about their trip and hearing some of their reflections and thoughts about the various aspects of the trip. I really enjoyed experiencing this incredible, life-changing trip across the world with them. The knowledge and insights I gained on this trip could not have been gained in the classroom, and I cannot emphasize that fact enough.

As I mentioned in past posts, one aspect of the Chinese culture that I found most interesting and slightly surprising was how superficial they were. I knew that the Chinese people were more superficial than most, however I did not really realize how much about the “show” they were. For example, the shopping malls there are incredibly extravagant. The most popular brands there are some of the most exclusive brands in the world. These brands all have pretty large logos, and all of their merchandise has that logo on it (obviously). It is extremely important to the people that their peers see that they have a Louie Vuitton bag or an Audi A8. Also, another small thing I noticed was that almost every entrance, even a private driveway by the airport for the president, is extremely extravagant so that people KNOW that the entrance is for someone greater than them. It says quite a bit about the Chinese culture. There is no true sense of individuality, as these extravagant things are what define who you are in the culture. These things represent how successful you are in your career, which is the true value you bring to the world. Now, don’t get me wrong, Americans are very superficial as well and we have plenty of cultural issues. However, this trip to China has showed me what true superficiality and what it’s true deeper meaning is to some cultures.

Also, as all of you know, it is extremely hard to miss the talks of China in the news right now. I read an incredibly interesting article today in the New York Times that I strongly would recommend you read. It is one of the best articles I have read this summer, and is the best article I have read on this issue. See the link below!

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/18/business/international/chinas-devaluation-of-its-currency-was-a-call-to-action.html

It was clear that the country needed to give the currency more flexibility and to reinvigorate exports. If officials did not act, China risked deeper turmoil at home, threatening the stability of the government. I find this especially interesting since there was so much talk about this issue on our trip. I find it even more interesting because none of the officials we asked about this issue were open to discussing or admitting that they thought China intentionally devalued the currency. The article is really a great read, and includes some really great graphics to explain the situation, so please let me know you thoughts, as I am sure I would learn plenty!

Now that the trip is over, I still am continuing to read up on Chinese culture and business issues on that side of the pacific. I really would like to go back and stay for a longer period of time to learn even more about their culture and the corporate business environment there. There is still so much for me to learn and I cannot wait to tackle that mountain. Thanks for a great trip everybody!

Please share!

Back From China and Happy to Be Home

Please share!

Oh I cannot tell you the feeling of coming back home after a long trip. It feels great to eat my home cooked meals, to sleep in my comfortable bed, and to shower in peace and serenity.

China was such a great experience for me because I learned a lot about their everyday culture and their corporate culture. Interacting with many Chinese students and adults helped me expand my horizons and understand a new perspective of how they live their lives. One of the main concepts I struggled to understand was their conservative culture. Although I am from Saudi Arabia, I am pretty Westernized in the sense that I love to talk about contraversial topics, about current global issues, and discuss anything that has to do with political or economic conflicts.

I was hoping to get the insight of the Chinese on US- China relations, but I was fairly disappointed when I didn’t. I felt as though the conferences did not promote open and honest discussions, but rather a fake-fairytale dream relationship between US and China. The conferences we went to made it seem that the relations were overly optimistic and perfectly sound, but we all know the truth here. One thing that frustrated me most was when Americans would try to take the conversation to a deeper level and mention the issues between the two countries, the people on the panel would respond very cunningly by avoiding the topic or trying to make it seem more positive.

We all have differences, and the Chinese and US definitely does too. A suggestion to political leaders of both US and China is that they should come to reality with their struggles. They should acknowledge their problems, and their differences — and a solution, or numerous solutions can be discussed. However, if we just brush off our differences and act like they never happened, or be in denial of what is actually going on between the two countries, then no problem can ever be solved that way.

From this trip, I have learned to embrace and understand a different culture. This way, I have managed to see life through their eyes and their perspectives. Although I do have a lot of disagreements with the Chinese government principles  I have come to terms with it, and I’ve also embraced their differences because it gave me a new experience to see events, obstacles and issues in a different light.

Thank you for keeping up with my journey so far.

I hope to find time to write to you soon, as I have been very busy with my family during Ramadan. It is a religious holiday where all people of my religion fast from dawn to dusk. Pretty cool isn’t it?

I’ll keep you updated.

Best,

Tala

Please share!

World Strides US & China Conference

Please share!

Hey guys,

So I went to a US-China conference last night in one of Shanghai’s most prestigious universities called Fudan. It was really interesting to meet all types of Chinese students who constantly hope for bright futures and mass successes. It was also very intriguing to meet the young students and have a one on one interaction with them.

The classroom I was assigned to had a very wide and open space which allowed for a lot of interaction between both the Chinese and US students. We talked about cultural differences and our different point of views and it was very interesting to open my eyes to a whole new experience of how others perceive the world.

Whenever we did activities together, the debrief questions always got somewhat personal. The Chineese students had a very hard time opening up about their perceptions about the Chinese government whereas the Americans were very open about all the economic and political/race issues that go on in the US. When I speak my mind, I find it very easy to share my opinions with others – but I learned that other people, specifically Chinese, like to be a little more reserved with their thoughts and perceptions.

Furthermore, because I am a very direct person, I always find the need to be as straight forward as possible. This is due to the fact that I am a very low context person, I like to get straight to the point – I find it hard to resonate with people who beat around the bush. But I learned to respect their high context culture because I don’t want to have a “be like me” bias. Low context or High Context — no option is better than the other, it is just a matter of preference and culture. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in China is that people don’t always have to be open with their thoughts, opinions, perceptions, and it doesn’t make you any better than others who are more kept to themselves about their true feelings and emotions. It just depends on how a person prefers to speak to another, and if there are differences, then they must be accepted and embraced.

Speaking of cultural differences, my proctor considered the American culture as “friendly” and the Chinese culture as “Not Friendly.” Although I am not Chinese, I got personally offended by his statement. It’s not that Chinese are not friendly, they are just more reserved and kept to themselves when it comes to a first time encounter with another person. The value of this story is that one should always respect different types of cultures and understand why people act the way they do. Americans were not born and raised the same way the Chinese were: the culture is different, the environment is different, and the political “ruling” of choice is definitely unique from one another.

My final thoughts are that we should not stereotype a certain race as “not friendly”, we must understand why people perceive them that way and change our minds about them. Also, be careful of the ethnocentric bias, Americans are Americans and Chinese are Chinese – no one is better than the other, and definitely no one is more “friendly” than the other.

That is all.

My flight is tomorrow, I’ll update you as soon as possible.

Best,

Tala

Please share!

Adventures at the Local Market

Please share!

 

Hi everyone,
China has been wonderful so far and I am excited to fill you in on my whereabouts.
Today, I visited the local market in Beijing with my best friends Lateef and Jamjoom. It was an outdoor souk consisting of local cafes, cool gift shops, and delicious eateries.
I bought a few souvenirs for my family because I miss them. But I had to bargain for all my purchases. The salespeople were quite difficult to communicate with and were unwilling to give me reasonable prices. However I learned the skill of bargaining and I think it’s a valuable quality to have.
I visited Starbucks at the Market and it was incredibly different than the one in the states. It was a very high end cafe with fancy wooden chairs and antique-looking tables. Also, their flavors were very creative as they ranged from boba matcha green tea to tiramisu frappiccinos.
Needless to say, Starbucks used the localization strategy to tailor their products in order to meet local needs. I have come to the realization that Chinese people enjoy sweeter foods than those the US, and this was fairly evident when I tasted their iced mango tea. It had a lot of sugar, and it was a little too sweet for my liking.
In terms of customer service, the baristas were very calm and conservative in comparison to the upbeat and energetic servers in America. Due to apparent cultural differences and language barriers, I could not request for a smaller size because she didn’t fully understand my order – it’s all good though.
 In America, the baristas have a more aggressive sales approach with their customers – asking questions such as “would you like whipped cream with that?” “Can I get you anything else for you today?” I wonder if Baristas in China do the same with their customers since they can speak the same language. Are salespeople more aggressive in America due to their overbearing marketing strategies or are Chinese people just conservative in their daily sales practices?
I’ll let you ponder on that for while, but now I’ll be heading to Shanghai.
See you soon
Tala
Please share!

What is PUDONG?

Please share!

IMG_1957

How can one possibly forget that magnificent view from 172nd floor skyscraper, knowing that they are on a semi island that is surrounded with a beautiful river? Well as I examine and enjoy the surrounding area, one cannot ignore the existence of the modernly and uniquely built and some other under construction skyscrapers with their stunning architecture. As we had the chance to catch our breathes after the breath taking view, we went to an exhibition that explained the surrounding area. A district inside the city of Shanghai, called Pudong. Pudong is a very strategic and a vital location that holds the financial, shipping and trading centers, therefore it is considered as the international business center in China.

IMG_2124The most astonishing thing about Pudong, the fact that it holds the fortune of 100 companies registered in it, meaning that they are active in the market making business and using resources in China . They managed to attract all these companies by not only establishing places and services that is suitable and beneficial for them, but also the fact that it is a free trade zone that offers low cost manufacturing and it is accessible my more than 1 billion people.

Over the period of 5 years, there was 800 billion Yuan invested in Pudong and more than twenty thousand foreign projects executed in the district. Although the Chinese market berries of entry was very high, companies still fought for it for the reason that they were acknowledged by the fact that it is worth the investment. The latest prediction states that by the end of 2015 China is expecting Pudong to have 1 to 2 percent higher GDP growth in comparison to Shanghai.

In the past, Pudong started with having a free trade zone but they have taken that to the next level, since many sources have described it as Shanghai’s economic and social development engine. Additionally, it has been awarded as the National Model District and it continues its development as it connects the gap between local companies and multinational ones. So far the results are positive, seeing that it is establishing more investments and creating more job opportunities, in which one can say that it is yielding some of the most fundamental necessities for economic growth.

 

Please share!

Until Next Time, China

Please share!

With the travel course completed and my time in China drawing to a close, I can say with confidence that both my character and skills have grown immensely from my first real experience abroad. The full immersion in another culture, from trying new and exotic foods (looking at you, chicken feet and snake), to sharing stories with the locals, gave me a new insight on the inner workings of China, and the people that drive its advancement.

The history of China is long and complicated, but seeing its great accomplishments of the past still standing and cherished as traditional and cultural relics acts as a testament to China’s respect of its storied history and its commitment to the values that dictated Chinese society centuries ago. The Temple of Heaven was an awe-inspiring sight, and people could be seen practicing Tai-Chi and meditating as locals and tourists alike marveled at the spiritual energy and dominating presence of these ancient structures. The Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai granted a similar experience, albeit a less crowded one, as I witnessed Buddhist monks in meditation and surrounded by impressive and intricate statues of all their deities. While visiting the cultural sights of Beijing and Shanghai helped me better understand the history behind China, it was the company visits and interaction with Chinese students that gave me greater insight into the culture and society that dictates Chinese life, and how this carries over into business, both domestic and international.

The Chinese are a very high-context language culture, and much of their communication is left unsaid, supplemented by tradition and gestures instead of vocalized. This was seen by the importance of providing gifts when meeting with clients and assigning high respect to your superiors. Another interesting component of their business culture is the concept of guanxi, which simply means relationships in Chinese, but encompasses a much broader spectrum of actions that define interactions between people. Under guanxi, saving face is important, and controversial or inappropriate topics are often avoided, as to not create conflict with whoever you’re talking to. This can lead to some trouble when dealing with US businesses overseas, as the US is very blunt and forward, and will approach problems head on, no matter the discomfort it may cause others.

Overall, I’ve gained new understanding on what it takes to do business internationally, and the effect that different cultures can have on consumer preferences and a company’s ability to effectively communicate and do business.

Please share!