The Translation of Advertising texts

One of the most difficult challenges for a translator is an advertising text. In fact, most translators of my acquaintance would rather be faced with a page of technical operating instructions than a five-word slogan. Or worse still: a three-word slogan.

Research has shown that consumers tend to buy on emotion and justify with facts. This would suggest that conveying the emotions, wit and persuasive wording of an advertising text is every bit as important as the information it contains. In fact, in order to get the finely-honed message across to the public, the translator must essentially have the same skills as the advertising copywriter who wrote the original text.

Besides verbal dexterity, advertising translation also requires an understanding of the cultural differences in the respective countries and of the cultural reference points that often form the basis for advertising slogans. For example, a slogan based on the well-known London Underground safety warning “mind the gap” would work well in most of Britain, but if this were to be translated into French or German, a whole new approach would have to be developed. The question here is not whether the French or German slogan constitutes an accurate translation of the original words – the question is whether or not it works.

Given my marketing background and experience working with a wide cross-section of customers in the advertising industry, our translation service is ideally suited for this creative area. From slogans to advertising brochures, we have the expertise and linguistic dexterity necessary to ensure that none of the spark of the advertising is lost in the translation process.

Philippe Golay