Get a group of Hispanics from different backgrounds together, and they can spend hours cracking each other up over ordinary Spanish words and phrases that have hilarious (and often shocking) double meanings in some countries. For example, you can “coger un taxi” (catch a taxi) in Spain, but try to do that in Mexico and you might get your mouth washed out with soap.
That’s why it’s so important to avoid word-for-word translations, and make sure your Spanish-language copy takes into account the nuanced differences between Hispanic cultures.
But if you want to truly engage minority audiences, translations –– even careful ones –– aren’t enough.
In a recent talk at a regional PRSA workshop, Hispanic business leader and marketer Hernan Tagliani called on agencies to embrace transcreation –– the idea that we can and should create campaigns that are not only linguistically accurate, but holistically embrace and reflect Hispanics’ cultural identity.
Transcreation begins during concept development, and it requires more than just tailoring the copy and swapping in ethnically appropriate images. Transcreation involves rethinking the creative strategy through a Hispanic lens.
It may mean that you create an entirely new message, in a new medium, and disseminate it through different communications channels, while staying true to the strategic underpinnings of the English-language sister concepts.
As part of our long-standing HoCo Unsweetened campaign for the Horizon Foundation in Howard County, Maryland, we embraced a key campaign strategy that had proven effective in the English run, and transcreated it to fit Hispanic audiences.
In efforts to lower sugary drink consumption across the county, we promoted real community members who were already working to establish our campaign’s desired behavior. For the English run, these people included a pediatrician, an educator, and high school coaches.
For the Hispanic segment, the story came from a Peruvian father and his family, and centered around their experiences moving to the United States.
Although few Hispanic communities are monocultural –– most include residents from a variety of countries and heritages –– there are key shared values and experiences that resonate broadly with Hispanic immigrants and second generation families from all backgrounds.
While the sazón may differ from culture to culture, shared passion points include family, traditional cuisine, community, sports and the American Dream. These common touch points can be (carefully) leveraged to transcreate broadly appealing Spanish-language concepts –– as ATT so masterfully does in it's Between Two Worlds ad for cellular service.
The bottom line? If you want to not just reach but engage your a Hispanic target audience, your creative concepts should address and incorporate cultural nuances from the get-go.
Daniela Marin is a Marketing Associate at Marketing for Change.