Painful Advertising Mistakes

Mar 27, 12 Painful Advertising Mistakes

It does not take a sociologist to realize that social norms, interests, humor, fashion and social codes such as language vary from culture to culture. Therefore, when launching a campaign to a multicultural market, advertisers and marketers alike have to avoid a few faux pas that could cost their company time, money and reputation.

According to a recent study commissioned by the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA), companies who spend significant campaign funds directing advertisements toward the Hispanic market are growing more rapidly than those who do not properly budget or dismiss the Hispanic market altogether. Targeting the Hispanic market is a must–as consumers, they are too large of a segment to ignore. However, marketers must avoid mistakes and make sure they are picking up on cultural nuances.

Painful Mistake #1

Rule: Don’t just translate; transculturate.

“Are You Lactating?”

For instance, in 2006, the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB) launched their popular “Got Milk?” campaign in Spanish: “¿Tienes Leche?” However, the campaign did not reach the Hispanic market as intended when “Got Milk?” literally translated into, “Are You Lactating?”

After the CMPB caught on that their ad was lost in translation and was being misinterpreted, they switched “¿Tienes Leche?” with “¿Toma Leche?” (or “Drink Milk?”). Some still argue that “Got Milk” really does not translate to Spanish.

Moral of the Story: Instead of throwing money at an ad that probably will not be very successful if it’s just translated, educate current employees on the Spanish language and the Hispanic culture. Additionally, research the campaign’s message to make sure it will be relevant and resonate with the Hispanic audience.

In all, research should obviously be a huge part of any marketing campaign; without it, companies are wasting their time and money. Companies cannot afford to ignore the Hispanic market any longer because the Hispanic population has massive spending power: an estimated $1.3 trillion by 2013. Just remember, spending the extra money on advertising to the Hispanic market will pay off in the end as long as advertisers pick up on their cultural nuances.

Stay tuned for Painful Mistake #2 in a future blog.


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