Transcreation [trans-kree-ey-shuh n]

By February 28, 2014 May 18th, 2017 About Us, Insights

Guest post by Media Director, Rebecca Deng
Disney’s movie Frozen has recently released its theme song “Let It Go” in 25 languages or, more accurately, 23 languages plus two dialects in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) and two dialects in Spanish (Latin American Spanish and Castilian Spanish). Each language or dialect aims to break the language barrier and transcend cultures in music by adapting the process of transcreation.

View the music video here.

Transcreation is the art of translation beyond languages taken into consideration of cultural nuances, relevancy and sensitivity. According to Wikipedia, “Transcreation is a term used chiefly by advertising and marketing professionals to refer to the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. A successfully transcreated message evokes the same emotions and carries the same implications in the target language as it does in the source language. Increasingly, transcreation is used in global marketing and advertising campaigns as advertisers seek to transcend the boundaries of culture and language. It also takes account of images which are used within a creative message, ensuring that they are suitable for the target local market.”

Our agency has been adapting the process of transcreation since our founding in 2004, in order to effectively target the growing U.S. multicultural market as first addressed by the 2000 census to include multicultural and multiracial categories. The most recent 2012 census release affirms that Asians and Hispanics continue to be the fastest –growing race or ethnic groups accounting for 18.9 million and 53 million of the U.S. population, which means 1 out of 5 U.S. consumers is of Asian or Hispanic decent. In certain counties in California and Texas, the minority population has become the majority making transcreation a must-do in consumer marketing.


Why is transcreation better than translation?

We are often approached by clients who are either unhappy or seeking a second review on translated work. While we respect the traditional translation process, it is intended for literally translating the source language word to word. And often time literal translation ends up sounding awkward or dry downplaying the effectiveness of advertising messages because the translation process starts from the source language. On the other hand, the transcreation process starts from taking the time to understand the advertiser’s business as well as the advertising messages in the source language and crafting relevant messages in the target language while maintaining the original intent, style, tone and context.

Is transcreation right for my campaign? If so, how many languages or dialects do I need?

Take Disney’s Frozen – “Let It Go” for example, the song is adapted in Latin American Spanish and Castilian Spanish due to the movie’s release locations. In Washington State, the Hispanic population is predominately Mexican and therefore Mexican Spanish is the recommended dialect to effectively reach the Mexican-American population though certain topics and materials such as government materials are often written in Latin American Spanish to retain its authoritative tone. As for Chinese, “Let It Go” has at least four different versions in its global release to address the diverse Chinese populations residing in Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and overseas. Our agency has the capability to combine all four styles to sensitively reach the U.S. Chinese population. Please feel free to contact us if you have any question on whether transcreation can make a difference to your campaign.