Aisles, front porches, colorful wreaths, and holiday specials. Should we localize Christmas?
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Christmas holidays are almost in, and there is no way you haven’t noticed. Green and red flood the supermarket aisles and front porches. Santa displays himself in all kinds of brands, colors, and outfits. But is it the same everywhere? Is Christmas something to localize? Should your supermarket ad be the same in every country? Should your TV or online Christmas special be translated word by word? Or should there be some variations to have a greater impact?
Even inside the US, there are holiday differences to take into account when adapting your marketing material. This article explores a few sides of the American X-mass frenzy. Get to know differences around the globe to make the most of your marketing strategy. All you need is some help with translation, localization, and more.
The skeletons walk back into the closet as November white and shine its snowy way in. All our favorites air again on TV, cinemas, and streaming. Christmas miracles happen one after the other in seasonal marathons that keep you cozy on the couch.
Christmas specials are a mostly American subgenre that became very popular. Usually with one-shot episodes dedicated to the time of the year. Some of them, yes, depicts what the holiday specifically celebrates. But most today are secular in order to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The “true meaning of Christmas” replaced the religious aspect. We now focus on family, generosity, caring, and friendship. And the importance of preserving hope, which is why many times Christmas must be “saved”.
Disney stood out with “From All of Us to All of You”, in 1958. Cartoon footage of Jiminy Cricket linking winter-themed cuts from Classic Disney Shorts. Ever since, it has been updated and retitled not only here, but also in places like the UK, Scandinavia, and Sweden.
Translating, interpreting, and localizing can lead to unexpected success stories. Even more, today, with the speed and reach provided by the internet. We can test small capsules of content and see how they work out before doing heavier, more complex dubbing operations. If you need voice-over interpreters or screenplay language adaptations, we can help you take Christmas even to the most far away chimneys.
HOLIDAY FOOD AROUND THE WORLD
The United States of America has a multicultural nature. That means traditions from all over coexist side by side and blend in with pre-existing customs. Some are similar to ones in the UK, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Mexico, and even Poland.
This is reflected in, for example, food. A traditional meal for Western European families is turkey or ham with cranberry sauce. While Eastern Europe favors kielbasa (a Polish sausage), cabbage dishes, and soups. And, let’s say, Italian families will many times prefer lasagne. This is important because of the emotional attachment implied. That makes you crave Eggnog and gingerbread cookies only once a year.
These are things to take into account when preparing ads, flyers, multimedia campaigns, packaging. Who is your audience? What are they emotionally attached to? How much of this should be reflected in your marketing content? This is what localization and adaptation are all about.
DIFFERENT TRADITIONS AND RELIGIONS TO REPRESENT
Many symbols come to play during festivities. Luminarias in the Southwest, Las Posadas for Mexicans and some Central Americans. Be it the re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s Odyssey, the Swedish St. Lucia festivals, or Puerto Rican Parrandas, they’re all important enough for the federal courts to have upheld its status as a legal holiday. As one court reasoned, “The government is doing no more than recognizing the cultural significance of the holiday.”
At the same time, an undeniable modern, commercialized Christmas emerged starting in the 19th century. Today, seasonal “Christmas shopping” has economic importance. And Americans will mail some 16.6 billion Christmas cards, letters, and packages over the holidays. Secular, religious, or humorous, your brand or product should be present. No one can escape Christmas, so the decision is more about what role do you want to play and how many people do you want to reach?
And again, you can go big and far from home. Think out of our box and all the way to China, to a little city over an hour away on the bullet train south of Shanghai, Yiwu. Nearly two-thirds of the Christmas decorations consumed worldwide are made. Between September 2016 and this past August, the workshops and factories surrounding the city churned out $3 billion worth of Christmas products, according to monthly tallies from Hangzhou Customs.
The Holiday spirit is everywhere, and any industry has a window of opportunities if they pay attention. Don’t let language be a barrier, we have all the interpreters and language professionals you need to be a part of a Posada, make new business alliances in China, or adapt to the lexical system used in the Southwest.
DECORATION, SEASONS, AND MORE
As we can see, Christmas may seem standard, but it has many possible outcomes. Is it summer in your target country? Does it snow there? Are there any myths, legends, or traditions that resurface every December?
Ukraine has cobwebbed holiday trees, Finland receives the “Christmas goat”, who over the centuries morphed into a human being, in Russia Winter arrives in person with “Father Frost ” who freezes the whole country with his magic wand.
The best you can do is do your research, be specific about your target audience, and from there on, adapt your marketing material. This will make it easier for you to:
#1. Decide on the target languages
#2. Keep track of what you are translating
#3. Understand what type of services you’ll need to decide what and what not to outsource
#4. Create a stronger bond with your audience
Does all of this trigger any holiday campaign ideas? Contact our language professionals at STILLMAN to help you out with anything you need during this festive frenzy.