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Marketing localization

Kentucky Fried Chicken entered the Chinese market using their well-known tag line “Finger-lickin' good”. Bad move; their translator provided a literal translation that changed “Finger lickin’ good” to “Eat your fingers off”.


You would think that in this era of globalization companies would be more aware, but problematic translations still happen.

Such errors may be the result of corporate ignorance or arrogance, but many can be traced to language services that still provide literal translations, instead of localized translations.

And truly localized translations require an understanding of the original language and culture, as well as the target language and culture.

The purpose of ads and other marketing material is to spark customer interest, stimulate a desire to explore the product or service and drive the decision to buy.

Accomplishing all that requires understanding the target audience, not only its language, but also its nature, culture and mentality.

But beyond that knowledge, you need the same understanding of the country of origin, because sales rhetoric and tag lines (think “finger lickin’ good”) often use slang, double entendres or subtle plays on words to elicit an emotion or get a point across.

Without that knowledge there is little chance of accurately and elegantly localizing the translation.

Without skilled localization, what makes your product sell in one country is more likely to make people laugh, or worse, lead to your failure, in another.


ABBYY Language Services already provides comprehensive localization of marketing materials, from tag lines and ads to full linguistic support to top international corporations doing business in Russia and other countries.

  • Approving project requirements at the very start of a project to ensure maximum quality
  • Text translation and adaptation for the target audience
  • Involvement of creative writers and marketing professionals
  • Localization stages: translation → editing → rewriting → proofreading
  • Creative translation of slogans, slang, idioms and names

A small sampling of our clients:

To order a translation or get free detailed advice on marketing materials localization, call us.

Tel: + 1 856 782-8106
E-mail: info.usa@abbyy-ls.com
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