Adapting Content for an International Audience

I recently read a horror story about American Airlines…

Nothing to do with the airline stories we’ve heard lately, where people are being dragged off planes or worse.

No, this story was about a serious marketing mistake.

Some years ago, American Airlines was promoting its new leather seats and advertised that passengers could “fly in leather.”

Unfortunately, in Spanish — the second most spoken language in the world — the literal translation of the phrase actually meant “fly naked” instead.

It’s reminiscent of what happened with the Chevy Nova fiasco in the 1970s. The car was a flop right out of the gate in Spanish-speaking countries, because “no va” translates to “doesn’t go.”

Now, there may be a worse way to promote a vehicle, but you’d have to look pretty hard to find it.

There’s a lesson here, of course…

Adapting Content for an International Audience

When modifying marketing materials for an international audience, it is critical that what you’re saying translates (both literally and figuratively).

Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.


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