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Brand and product launches in a global market

What works for one, doesn’t work for all – we’ve all heard the saying before. But how does it apply to campaign marketing?

Kelly Wright

Author: Kelly Wright

Associate Account Director

Date posted: 03/06/2021

What works for one, doesn’t work for all – we’ve all heard the saying before. But how often do we stop to consider its meaning? And what about its importance for campaign marketing? As savvy marketeers, we would say every time we plan a launch. And that’s what we tell our clients too – whether it be a product, service, or brand launch.

To help you avoid mistakes, we’ve put together a quick list of important things you should consider before launching in a global market.

A killer’s strength

First, consider the language you’re using when developing assets for an international marketing campaign. Back when we were launching a performance materials brand for a client, we uncovered during our due diligence that the proposed acronym for ‘productivity’ was slang for ‘fart’ in one of the Eastern European countries! As we’ve seen, some English words could have a completely different meaning in other languages. Take American Motors for example: in the 1970s, they chose the name ‘Matador’ for one of their cars, to stir up feelings of courage and strength. That could work for an English speaker who doesn’t know what the Spanish word truly means – ‘killer’. That’s hardly something you want to be associated with a car.

Is Bob your uncle?

It is also important to be cautious when using slang and plays on words. As Brits, we might want to use phrases such as ‘Straight from the horse’s mouth’ or ‘Bob’s your Uncle’. But they probably wouldn’t make much sense to our overseas friends – who might think you’re calling them a horse instead! An American beer maker, Coors, for example, discovered that ‘Turn it loose’, when translated to Spanish, means having digestive issues! Safe to say the campaign had an impact on Spanish customers – but perhaps not the one Coors had intended.

The peach’s baby

Aside from the literal translations of words and sayings, some myths and legends may also not be part of every culture. When Procter & Gamble started selling Pampers in Japan, they launched a campaign that featured an image of a stork delivering a baby, which was very confusing for Japanese customers. The legend of storks delivering babies is usually associated with European folklore and was popularized by a 19th-century Hans Christian Anderson story called ‘The Storks’. However, the imagery didn’t resonate with Japanese parents, as in their folklore it is peaches, not storks, bringing the babies.

So, what’s the lesson here?

If you are thinking of expanding your campaign to a global audience, you must first understand whether your content would translate well. If not, you must tailor it to its intended audience. This is fundamental to your campaign’s success.

You can easily avoid mishaps by conducting in-depth research and adapting your content to the market you’re launching in. Customers are already overwhelmed by the amount of choice; unclear communication would only confuse them more, so it’s important to get it right the first time. Understanding what makes your audience tick – how they communicate, and their cultural nuances – is a crucial part of the planning process.

Kelly Wright is an Associate Account Director at the Purple Agency. She has 10 years’ experience working with a variety of global B2B brands and is well-versed in all aspects of client marketing campaign delivery - from strategy and idea development, through to implementation and execution.


An honest guide to B2B product & service launches

Our 5-step guide covers: 

  • Planning and objective setting
  • Understanding your audience
  • Developing your unique voice
  • Creating a buzz
  • Content development
Download the guide


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