Translators and marketing – what can we learn from Christmas adverts?

Speech Marks Translation - Christmas Coca Cola Lorry

The Coca Cola campaign, a familiar sight at Christmas

[image credit Jonas Rogowski via Wikimedia Commons]

As the inevitable Christmas shopping rush begins here in the UK, the swarm of seasonal advertising has begun to engulf the television schedules. I always take an interest in the way companies market themselves, and marketing and advertising make up two of my specialist areas in terms of translation. One evening last week, while being bombarded with adverts for children’s toys and beauty products for women, I started thinking about effective slogans and campaigns.

At this is the time of year, the big brands pull out all the stops to make a big impact with their festive advertisements, with glitz, glamour, celebrities and plenty of fake snow. For those of you outside of the UK, I thought I would share my favourite from this year, and then have a look at what makes it successful.

John Lewis – The Journey

In recent years, this upmarket chain of department stores has become known for its short films, which tug on the heart strings, and this year’s is no different. The advert follows the story of a snowman who sets out on a journey to buy a Christmas gift for the snow-woman who stands with him in their garden. The advert is set to a cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s The Power of Love, which was released at the end of 1984 and although not a typical Christmas song, it has become associated with the time of year.

Here is the ad:

Are you feeling all warm and fuzzy yet? I know I am!

So, what makes this campaign so effective, compared to other Christmas ads? What can we learn from it to apply to our own businesses? I had a look around online for some information about who comes up with the ideas for John Lewis’ adverts, and found this quote from marketing director Craig Inglis:

“It’s entertaining and people can connect emotionally. There is no hard sell. John Lewis have been around for more than 150 years and our customers know and trust us. We don’t need to feature the stores in the ads, just the comforting feelings of tradition they evoke in people.”

The lesson? Build your brand, establish an online (and offline) presence and consolidate your reputation. Without this foundation, it is difficult to demonstrate the value that you can add to target companies. Aggressive sales tactics are rarely going to work – besides, they’re not my style anyway. You’re aiming to make a connection with your prospect, get them to relate to you and show them what you can do for them.

If you can show your experience in a portfolio and present testimonials of your services and values, you’re well on the way. If your profile has been endorsed by a mutual contact, even better. It takes time to build trust. When that respect and confidence has been established, you will find that you can be much more confident in talking about yourself and your work.

If you have anything to add, feel free to get in touch via the comments!

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This article was written by: Megan Onions

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