We recently came across this Infopresse article presenting an analysis by Mathieu Bédard, president of Camden, and copywriter Susannah Rubin dealing with the need for advertisements to be tailored to their target audience or – at the very least – target culture. Often if an advertisement is first designed for a particular market (let’s take the Canadian anglophone market as an example) and is afterwards presented on another market (the francophone Quebec market, say) some people will be quick to simply translate the voiceovers – and the deal is done! But adaptation is frequently not just a matter of language but more than anything a question of culture. Adaptation of concepts, whether through the choice of actors, cultural references or language, sometimes comes (regrettably) late in the game – meaning the last thing of all, resulting in spectacular failures or missed opportunities.
This is a consideration that we often share with our clients – some agencies even ask us now and then to show them an argument so that they can explain in greater detail to their client how it is that a song that doesn’t speak to their target or that isn’t (even) in the same language as their target’s could substantially harm their campaign and, ultimately, their image. So, as the analysts emphasize in their article, “why not take advantage of the opportunities offered us by segmentation precisely to heighten the emotional connection with a maximum of potential clients?” Obvious to them, and to us too. After all, a song or a campaign featuring artists and references that echo a collective imagination remains the way to evoke emotions and, even better, to stimulate the engagement of an audience. That’s what our clients and partners behind this Provigo ad understood when they asked us to find a Quebec song for the French-language version of their spot broadcast in the province:
If globalization sometimes seem to “unify” or transcend cultures, uniqueness and differences are perhaps that much more critical – and not only can attempting to understand those differences the better to address them bring a brand closer to its consumers; these are elements that are necessarily reflected in a culture and that will reach the targeted population – and what better example than that of music! Isn’t speaking the same “language” as one’s audience the most effective way to be heard?
Of course, certain references can be the same for a number of groups, but we have to pause to reflect, and as early in the process as possible, to find the best ways to reach, to engage, and to make ourselves heard by the consumers we are addressing – and inevitably, the culture and their distinctions are to be taken into account. Clearly, to avoid falling into the prejudice trap, you have to join forces with people who understand the culture to learn about its workings and use them respectfully.
Think about it: does it make more sense to use a song in English in an ad intended for French-speaking Quebecers? Obviously the concept will support your choice, but that choice deserves to be
carefully considered and reflected on, and be perfectly in synch with all the elements of your campaign, audience included!
When in doubt, or if you have questions on these issues of cultural adaptation – and above all about which music might best resound with your audience – then call on us.