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Creative translation in advertising

creative translaton: creative translators
creative translaton: creative translators

Will translating an outstanding Polish advertisement into English guarantee immediate success in the UK? Not necessarily! Advertisements are deeply rooted in the culture of their respective countries. They often rely on idioms or wordplay that are not easily understandable in other languages.

Creative translation services retain the persuasive power of the advertising message in the target language. It is more than just a literal text transfer from one language to another. It is the art of crafting a new message as brilliant as the original one. Translators enjoy some creative freedom, as their task is to evoke the appropriate emotions.

Transcreation in advertising

Transcreation, also known as creative translation, helps an advertisement reach right into the minds of the audience. In international campaigns, every word counts double. Its literal meaning matters, but so does the cultural dimension it carries within it.

Creative translation extracts the content, its emotional charge, humour, and cultural subtleties, making them understandable and engaging for audiences from different countries. It adapts the message to local interests while maintaining the brand’s identity. As a result, marketing campaigns use language that resonates with the experiences of the target group.

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Advertising translation

Working as a translator in the advertising industry is thrilling. However, it is more challenging than it sounds. Creative translations require cultural understanding and profound knowledge of the language: all idioms, proverbs, and sayings included. The greatest challenge lies in maintaining a balance between staying true to the original message and adapting it to local customs. You need to be careful as it is easy to make a costly misstep.

Humour presents a significant challenge. What is funny in one country might be incomprehensible or even offensive in another. Some ads, hilarious in their original version, lose all their charm in the process of translating into another language.

A playful slogan sounds witty in the source language, but its translation into the target language might turn into a nonsensical jumble of words. The difficulty in transferring linguistic and cultural subtleties is real.

Sometimes, mistakes in translations come from insufficient levels of the target language. Literal translations of product names or advertising slogans lead to entirely different, sometimes very negative, connotations.

Advertising translation mistakes

Occasionally, a direct translation leads to unexpected and even humorous results. Take, for instance, the name of a deodorant called Mist Stick. When it was translated into German, it became Miststück, which in English means “piece of dung”, a far cry from its original intention.

A famous slogan of a popular beverage, “Come alive with Pepsi” became “Pepsi brings your ancestors back to life” in Chinese. The company, instead of motivating customers, offended them.

The name of the car, Mitsubishi Pajero, in Japan does not raise any eyebrows, but in Spanish, it sounds offensive. It certainly is not the kind of association the car manufacturer intended to create.

In cases like these, translators often have to make the tough decision to entirely change the message to avoid misunderstandings or unintended comedic effects. It is a delicate act of balancing between staying true to the original and adapting to the cultural sensitivities of the target audience.

Cultural impact on advertising

Advertisements are not a universal medium. Their cultural context cannot be overlooked. Local social norms shape the content of marketing and delineate what is acceptable and what is not.

Colours in advertising

Colour plays a massive role in advertising. In China, red symbolises happiness and prosperity. It is frequently used in marketing, especially during important festivals like the Chinese New Year.

In the Western cultural sphere, red usually brings to mind love and passion. In some contexts, it can also suggest danger. The same colour evokes different emotions depending on the cultural background of the audience.

The green also has different connotations depending on the region. In Arab countries, it is associated with Islam, prosperity, and joy. In the West, it is often linked with health and ecology; hence its presence in advertisements for eco-friendly and health products.

Understand the cultural differences to create effective advertising that resonates with the intended audience.

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Humour in advertising

Humour certainly has its geographical limits. What tickles the funny bone varies greatly across cultures. Take the UK, for instance, where subtle, ironic humour is what moves the crowd. Advertisements frequently employ self-deprecating humour, aligning with the British sense of wit. This type of humour is sophisticated and involves clever wordplay. The best jokes require a bit of thought to be fully appreciated.

On the other side of the pond, in the United States, humour in advertisements tends to be much more direct. Americans prefer obvious jokes that are easy to grasp at first glance. Commercials rely on situational humour, funny characters, and exaggerated scenarios. They grab attention and elicit laughter immediately. It is all about making an instant connection with the audience through humour that is straightforward.

The contrast in humour styles between the UK and the US highlights the importance of understanding the audience’s cultural background. What works in one country might not necessarily work in another. The success of an advertising campaign hinges on getting the tone of humour just right.

Animals in advertising

Animals, be they domestic, farm, or wild, frequently appear in advertisements. They are not just a cute addition but a strong symbol. When entering new markets with your marketing message, remember the differences between countries.


For example, in India, the cow is considered a sacred animal. Its portrayal requires a great deal of respect. In contrast, in Europe and the United States, cows often feature in dairy product advertisements. There, they are typically presented in a humorous light, playing on familiar pastoral or farmyard scenes.


The eagle in the United States is a deep symbol of freedom and patriotism. Its image is typically used in advertisements to emphasise the “Americaness” of a product. It appeals to national pride and identity. This is a classic example of using national symbols to strengthen a marketing message. In other countries, the eagle more broadly symbolises strength, majesty, and power. Its image is used in advertisements to suggest the independence or superiority of a particular product over others.

What works as an effective marketing symbol in one country might have an extremely diverse connotation in another. Take it into consideration as it might influence the advertisement’s reception.

Lifestyle in advertising

The lifestyle depicted in advertising varies greatly from country to country. In Japan, advertisements reflect calmness and order. The products are shown as an integral part of a well-organised life. Minimalism and harmony are highly valued, and this is evident in the way products are presented as an element enhancing a serene lifestyle.

Contrast this with Brazilian advertisements, which are filled with joy and energy. In Brazil, the emphasis is on materials that showcase social life and the enjoyment of spending time together. Advertisements often feature vibrant scenes of gatherings, celebrations, and the lively Brazilian spirit.

In Australia, advertisements typically highlight a close connection with nature and an active lifestyle. They show people surfing, climbing, or exploring wild landscapes, mirroring the Australian love for adventure and outdoor living. This approach resonates with the audience, who value a lifestyle that is closely intertwined with nature and physical activities.

These examples illustrate how the lifestyle in advertisements reflects the values of different cultures. Use it to connect with the audience on a deeper level.

Family in advertising

A picture of a perfect family in advertising varies significantly across cultures. Scandinavian countries, known for their progressive values, regularly showcase diverse family models in their advertisements, including same-sex families. This inclusivity reflects their values, aiming to represent a wider spectrum of family structures.

In stark contrast, such a portrayal would not be allowed in the Middle East, where the cultural context is vastly different. Marketers in these regions tend to focus on strong family bonds and respect for elders. Advertisements commonly show families based on traditional values and social roles. The emphasis is on familial unity and respect for parental authority.

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Advertising translations from and to English

Are you planning to launch an advertising campaign beyond the borders of Poland? Would you like to introduce your product to the Polish market? We will tailor your advertising message to your target audience.

We collaborate with native speakers who have a profound understanding of the respective foreign markets. Creative translation in marketing helps to evoke the desired emotions while preserving the spirit of your brand. Contact us for a free quote and let us help you make a global impact.

Images generated by AI.

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