Localization & Translation of Advertisements

The globalization of different economies and trade is leading companies to interact with consumers of different languages as well as cultures.

Within the context of international marketing, advertisements play an important role. It is needed to resolve the problem which can be considered as a single question: how can we deal with a standard product and sell it to local and other consumers.

The study aims, at one side, understanding the problems that are related to translations of international ad campaigns, and as well as at raising questions regarding the locations and functions of professional translators.

Such issues are dealt with the perspective of the translation specialists with great expertise in the field of “advertisement adaptation”. For the reference of this study, it consists of 1000s of translated ads into many languages including Spanish, English, Arabic, Portuguese, and French.

The Basic Framework of Advertising Localization

This framework should be of communication and marketing strategies that are adopted by many multinational companies.

The debate between global standard upholders and local adaptation is open and will usually stay the way as long as Earth is teeming with multiple languages and cultures. The main elements of the debate should be briefly defined.

International advertising uses a common strategy of communication in all the targeted countries. The approach is useful because it has its roots in the economies of scale because of campaign standardization.

A number of arguments, either practical or theoretical, justify the internationalization of advertising campaign products.

Among such frequently given arguments, we describe some of them:

  • The consumer behavior standardization in multiple countries (cultural homogenization evidence).
  • The emergence of new categories in terms of consumers internationally (new translation market).
  • The introduction of icons and international themes thanks to the pop music and television network (supermodels and movie stars).

One may add a scarce number of great ideas in the communication field and so it is very easy to understand why companies adopt the standardized strategy.

But it is obvious that the forced standardization risks are not significant. The influence of the local culture is very substantial in many countries all over the world, including Western Europe.  It is very risky not to go with communication to local market especially the regions where cultural tradition is very important.

Localization of international adverts campaign consists of adapting the communication to the specifics of hosting country’s local environment that is targeted by the campaign. The local environment could be divided into components to which the translator must focus:

  • The socio-cultural component: This includes the particularities of the religion, social and cultural habits, mores, ethical norms, and rules of conduct. The component is related to the features of hosting society and their culture.
  • The politico-legal component: This component includes the particularities originated from the nature of political systems, the step of opening onto the world, restrictions imposed on the advertisements and rules related to certain products such as tobacco and spirits.

So, the translator plays a very important role in adapting the communication campaign. Along with this role of the translator of the speech, he must ensure the socio-cultural restrictions which can raise issues in the advertising transfer.


Maryum is a freelance writer and IT Professional living in Pakistan. Her technical and transcription blogs about software solutions have been published on various websites. With her hands on experience in translation tools like CATMATE, OMEGAt and TRADOS and advisor of technological tools for big transcription and translation projects. Maryum has the capability of delivering high-quality knowledge in just a few words on her articles and blogs.

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