Marketing Transcreation: the meeting point between translation and copywriting

marketing transcreation

Marketing Transcreation: the meeting point between translation and copywriting

First, let’s clear this up: marketing transcreation and copywriting are not the same thing. Both these services affect marketing and advertising, which is why they are sometimes mixed up. A little clarity on the issue is due.

Copywriting is a persuasive writing technique where the goal is to get the target audience to take a specific action. This action may include buying a product, subscribing to a service or a reaction on social media. The copywriter must know how to convince their readers, but may not have any purely foreign language-related skills.

To find out more about what copywriting may offer, visit our dedicated page.

Transcreation is the adaptation of a message from one language to another according to the target audience. The transcreation does not have to be faithful to the source text, but it must retain the same purpose and elicit the same reaction in the target audience: the transcreator will know how to amaze, make people laugh, cause a stir in the same way and with the same intensity as meant in the source message. To do so, it is not important to use the same words as the original text: what is important is to pursue the same purpose. “Transcreation,” in fact, is the union of the words “translate” and “creation”: it is indeed creative and persuasive translation.


Any examples?

Think of Disney cartoon songs that can be sung in almost any language; think of the slogan for an advertising campaign that needs to reach international markets; think of the title of a movie that needs to be adapted to reach audiences in another country; think of quiz questions that need to be relevant to gamers in different countries; think of the title of a video game that needs to be transformed to conquer another culture.

We are literally surrounded by examples of transcreation marketing.


How do you integrate a transcreation strategy into marketing in practice?

Companies want to convince people to make a purchase choice. They want to engage their potential customers on an emotional level and show how their product or service will improve the quality of their lives.

Launching a product or service on the market involves a lot of preliminary work where marketing and advertising departments must determine the best strategy and define the actions to be taken. The name of the new product or service is decided and content is created for different media channels: billboards, content on social media, promotions, etc. Designers, editors, copywriters and other professionals then get to work.

Now imagine that the company wants to internationalize the product and launch it in different countries around the world. Do you think it is enough to translate the product name, claim or content? Certainly not. This is where marketing transcreation begins to make sense and a professional in the field becomes essential.


It is not just about translation

Transcreation is not just about translating (although it is for all intents and purposes a translation strategy). Nor does it mean writing creative texts in other languages. The transcreator uses their language skills to ensure that the customer in each country grasps the message as if it were meant in their own language. It is a work of absolute immersion in the local culture.

To this extent, sometimes a transcreator creates completely new and different content from the original to maintain the meaning, tone, and strategy decided by the client.

transcreation strategy

The value of marketing transcreation to your business becomes apparent when you take a look at the Hall of Shame of companies that have decided to ignore the cultural sensitivity of their target market. Puma, for example, experienced the pitfalls of poor cultural and linguistic awareness when it produced a new shoe model in 2011 to celebrate the UAE’s 40th anniversary.

The product caused quite a stir, and not in a good way: the placing of the country’s flag on the shoe was perceived as trivializing and even disrespectful. The shoes touch both feet and the ground and thus are considered “dirty” in the target culture. It goes without saying that if you want to sponsor a brand, it is advisable not to offend the very symbol of the consumer’s nation.

Similarly, advertisers are sometimes too willing to alter their taglines when the original message already works perfectly for the purpose. In that case, better to go about it like Volkswagen did, for instance. The German automaker uses the slogan “Das Auto” in many countries, maintaining the foreign language element that successfully plays on Germany’s reputation for quality production.

Transcreation services are basically a way to express a brand’s identity to the world.


How much does this type of service cost?

The need to enter a foreign market is also reflected in the development of the localization sector, which grew by 11.8 percent in 2021 alone, as Slator reports. When it comes to the transcreation of a catchy slogan or website header for the purpose of generating leads, it will be necessary to do some research on what factor is decisive in the target market.

value of marketing

It is not just about adapting a pun or cultural reference, but about contributing to a company’s marketing campaign, helping them to reach their customers abroad and sell their product. For this reason, hourly rates for transcreation services are similar to those for copywriting services.


And how much does an error in translation strategy cost?

It is not the error itself that is costly, but its consequences which have unquantifiable implications. There are multiple examples:

  • Brand image losing credibility
  • Sales decline in the country or region concerned
  • Negative comments appear on social media, creating bad publicity for the company
  • Government censorship in some countries may jeopardize possible future growth opportunities.


The line between failure and success is very subtle. Making the right decision in choosing the partner to rely on for the success of your international campaign is crucial.

Rely on our expertise and discover our transcreation services.


foto articolo lavinia


Lavinia Tomasinelli

Netflix addict and late-night car singing enthusiast. Loves quoting books and movies randomly. Hits the snooze button 50 times in a row.


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