The best translation services are about more than just word for word changes. As these international Christmas adverts show – it’s all about the details.
It’s about that time of year when the much-awaited seasonal adverts of John Lewis and Coca Cola make their way onto our screens. The big Christmas adverts are quickly turning into a tradition as prolific as being dragged to Church with your family on Christmas Eve, and 2017 has certainly had its fair share of festive hype and excitement.
So to get us all firmly in the spirit, we’ve bought together some of the best heart-warming Christmas adverts from around Europe to take a look at the subtle differences in the way brands frame Christmas and why it’s the little details that make all the difference in the success of these big budget campaigns.
1 – UK – Sainsbury’s
Let’s start with a brand we all know in the UK – Sainsbury’s. In collaboration with The Royal Legion, our very own home-grown supermarket came up with this memorable Christmas advert in 2014, to commemorate 100 years since the start of the World War I.
Inspired by a true story, it tells the tale of British and German soldiers laying down their arms on Christmas Day, 1914, and bonding over a game of football; a memorable tale of humanity on Christmas day, if ever there was one. But the advert itself is noteworthy for the sensitivity and attention to detail it paid to its audience.
The risks are high with such an emotive topic as war, but the advert struck a powerful chord and chimed in with national sentiment.
2 – France – Intermarché
Over the Channel and we’re looking at Intermarché, a French supermarket similar to Sainsbury’s. Their 2017 advert is a happy, slightly comical tale of a child trying to get Santa in shape over the Christmas period, going so far as to leave him out an artichoke.
French children usually leave out a carrot for the reindeer and perhaps some biscuits for Santa – the French take on mince pies and sherry. But can you imagine a British supermarket ever dropping an artichoke into any advertising campaign and expecting it to resonate with British kids?
This is an advert firmly scripted for a French audience with a very definite nod towards French culinary traditions that just wouldn’t translate literally for the UK market.
3 – Edeka
In recent years, the German supermarket brand Edeka has gained German notoriety for their touching Christmas adverts. After making some waves in 2015, even in the British media, for telling the story of a man who faked his own death to bring the family together, Edeka decided last year to go for something with a slightly softer touch.
The first half of their 2016 advert features pictures of families stressfully preparing for Christmas, over the sound of a song detailing everything they still have to do. “Must do this, must do that, nothing must be amiss…”
Eventually, the families realise that they don’t need to rush about like headless chickens (there’s a phrase unlikely to have a direct translation if ever we wrote one!). Their great realisation? That the most important thing when it comes to organising the perfect Christmas with your family is that “das schönste Geschenk ist deine Zeit” – the most beautiful gift is your time.
Most of this advert would translate quite easily between countries – except perhaps for one item on the to-do list that really stands out as something a UK audience would fail to identify with: winter tyres.
Sure we have access to winter tyres and chains if we so wish, but we so rarely get heavy snow and ice that realistically we’d raise an eyebrow if someone asked us if we’ve fitted our winter tyres yet.
Over in Germany – and the Scandinavian countries too – this is a regular step in preparing for winter so it fits well in the advert given its target audience.
While the big Christmas messages of family, food and human kindness remain closely aligned between countries, there are subtle differences in the best advertisements that ensure they are designed to chime particularly well with their target audience.
Local food, common chores, day to day life, and a festive spirit particular to a region or locality … little things make a huge difference to the success of marketing campaigns both local and global.
If you’re considering an international advertising campaign, it pays to work with the professionals to give your creative material the greatest impact with your target audience. Bubbles work with native speakers and translation experts around the world to ensure our translation services are the best they can be – both in accuracy and impact. Get in touch today to find out more about our translation services.