We’ve spoken a lot in the past about how important it is that international marketing pays careful attention to the social and cultural nuances of where you’re marketing. If you know anything about language translation services and marketing in another language, you know that a Google Translate job isn’t going to cut it. The best international marketing campaigns combine great content with careful attention to detail.
To prove exactly how successful that winning formula can be, we’ve taken a look at some of the best multinational content marketing strategies out there. Here are a few things we can all learn from Innocent Drinks.
Innocent Drinks: The Origin Story
Innocent have been running a top-notch content marketing strategy since long before their website was even dreamt up. In 1999, back when Innocent first started, they sold their smoothies at a music festival. The founders put a sign out asking people if they should give up their jobs and start selling smoothies. They put out a yes bin and a no bin and asked customers to vote with their empty bottles.
After the weekend was over, they promptly followed their customers’ advice and got going from there.
Since then, the company has exploded into a truly global brand. A quick look at the bottom of their website and you’ll see separate pages provided for no fewer than 15 different countries, as diverse as Australia, Russia, Germany and Norway. Each website for each country is carefully constructed to the cultural and linguistic needs of the relevant language – this is certainly not a copy and paste Google translate job.
In fact, the company discovered early on the perils of not paying attention to these nuances in their audiences. In a translation fail worthy of our own annual translation fail awards, their first attempt at marketing in Paris earned more than a couple of sniggers when they translated ‘preservative-free’ into ‘condom-free’.
Since then, they’ve luckily learned a thing or two about marketing in other languages. Nowadays, Innocent even know how to account for spelling differences in blogs shared between the German and Swiss platforms – a distinction the grammar pedants here at Bubbles certainly appreciate. Those looking to expand their business overseas could well learn a thing or two from their approach here.
It’s not simply the websites and their respective copy that is targeted to particular languages and regions. The content itself changes depending on which website you’re on. And perhaps the most interesting thing about their content marketing strategy is, whatever language you’re reading their content in, it rarely ever has much to do with smoothies.
Take, for example, their Compliment Generator – a perfect way to allay your boredom by browsing quirky, slightly tongue-in-cheek compliments and sending them out to your friends on social media.
Particular favourites of ours include ‘if you were bacteria, you’d be the good kind,’ and ‘you’re a lot more intelligent than you look’. What does this have to do with smoothies? Well, nothing really but it does tell you a lot about the brand and the company you’re buying from and it certainly provides you with some amusement. And crucially, does it make you more likely to buy them? Somehow, yes.
I wish you weren’t on Facebook
Of course, this content marketing strategy doesn’t just work in the UK. The blog on Innocent’s German platform features a hilarious roundup of similarly tongue-in-cheek Mother’s Day ‘cards’. Some notable mentions include:
“I love you Mum. But I wish you weren’t on Facebook.’
“Dear Mum. Thanks for your cooking tips. Both of them. Love, me.’
The point is, whoever you are and whatever country you’re in, you can spend hours carelessly browsing around the website and come away with a pretty strong idea of their brand. They’re not even making much effort to hide that fact – with the bulk of their content being filed under a tab marked simply ‘bored?’ Next time you’re considering what to drink after a customary lunchtime ham and cheese meal deal, that strength of branding will serve Innocent well.
How to do international PR
It’s not all just laughs and funny Mother’s Day cards at Innocent HQ. The brand stretches further and takes careful attention to pay credence to contemporary social and ethical issues, making sure you’re quite aware that they’re on the right side of the argument.
Their dedication to sustainability and recycling is as vital to their brand as compliment generators, Mother’s Day cards and out of office e-mail templates. In places where these issues are of particular cultural importance, like Denmark, these take an even higher place of priority on the website.
Why does it work?
The thing with selling food or drink, is it’s rather difficult to give anyone a concrete idea of what your product is like. You can talk about your smoothie all you like – but nobody’s going to taste it until they’ve bought it. So a content marketing strategy that convinces them to take that first leap has to be even more creative than, for example Tesla or General Electric.
Content marketing for Innocent is far more about branding than it is the product. Content that is regularly nothing to do with smoothies tends to do very well because it strengthens their brand as a quirky, cosmopolitan company, sitting at the forefront of contemporary social issues, without taking themselves too seriously.
Good old fashioned humour goes a long way to convincing people to buy a drink with no idea what it’s like. The fact that this content is so well targeted to the particular needs of each individual country and language is simply a detailed and clever way of translating this brand across the world.
If there’s one thing we can learn from Innocent’s world-class internet marketing strategy, it’s that content can only ever be as great as the translation. As the founder of Innocent himself once said in an interview:
“Never underestimate the sheer cost and complexity of foreign expansion. And always carry a reliable foreign dictionary.”