Examples of Successful Transcreation

467971135Transcreation is the adaptation of a message from one language to another, something vital for any company embarking on a global marketing campaign. Here are some instances where global brands’ usage of transcreation was a good idea and why.

COCA-COLA Soft drink company Coca-Cola’s wildly popular Share a Coke campaign exploded worldwide in the summers of 2013 and 2014. The idea originated in Coca-Cola’s South Pacific division in Australia. On millions of cans and bottles, Coca-Cola’s famous cursive writing was replaced with 150 of Australia’s most popular names.

The idea took off, first traveling to New Zealand, then Asia, Europe and the Americas. Each country has managed to take this original idea and use transcreation to give it their own twist. Instead of first names, China used popular nicknames on cans and Great Britain publicized the birth of the royal baby by having its famous Piccadilly Circus illuminated sign read ‘Share a Coke with Wills and Kate’. With such a diverse market it’s inevitable that the success of Coca-Cola’s campaign depended on transcreation to appeal to its local customers on a global scale.

MCDONALD’S Fast food giant McDonald’s hit the nail on the transcreation head with their local market adapting menu. From the McFalafel to the McBaguette, McDonald’s created sandwiches to appeal to several local markets. The move, by the company described as ‘glocal’ (a global brand serving local markets), represented them as in touch with their local customers. McDonald’s acknowledged that India has a significant vegetarian population and offers them the McVeggie burger. The McArabia uses the Middle Eastern staple food, flatbread and the McRice burger in Singapore uses toasted rice cakes instead of burger buns.

Arguably McDonald’s most famous campaign, ‘I’m Lovin It’ was launched in 2003.  It appeared in 120 countries in 20 languages, although to different effect. In Arabic the famous tagline was translated as ‘Of course I love it’; in Ukrainian it was ‘I love this’ and in French ‘It’s everything that I love’. The tagline was originally created by a German ad agency as ‘Ich Liebe Es’, but the English version was used in several non-speaking English countries – recognizing  the fact that some countries have a relatively high English literacy level. Here, McDonald’s opting to not translate their tagline shows that their message and intent could best be presented in English to these countries.

Appealing to a global audience isn’t easy. Trying to retain your message while catering to different cultures and languages takes creativity, hard work and research. However, when done right the benefits can be plentiful, which is why it is prudent and rewarding to turn to your LSP and transcreation professionals to ensure your global marketing campaign captivates your local customers anywhere in the world.



Louise Donkor is a member of Welocalize’s Global Marketing Team.