IKEA Taiwan: Localized Marketing with a Global Message

January 25, 2016, IKEA Taiwan released an innovative new ad campaign that created a worldwide buzz. IKEA Taiwan targeted the Taiwanese market through localized advertising, appealing to the Taiwanese culture, and utilizing themes such as the importance of family, food, and social interaction. In Taiwan, a customary family dinner is served via hot pot, where everyone at the table uses a hot pot of broth in the center of the table to cook their assortment of meats and vegetables. In the modern age, the age of smartphones, developed markets like Taiwan are extremely tech-savvy and most people are frequently glued to their phones. With the rising power of social media and continuous connectivity, families all over the world are noticing how smartphones are taking attention away from social interaction. Historically, enjoying dinner over a hot pot is a communal and social experience. But today, teens and parents alike are becoming so engrossed in their handheld technology that they don’t notice how much they are missing out on quality time with their loved ones. IKEA Taiwan created an innovative new product and ad campaign that showcases the growing smartphone addiction in a way that is all at once witty and humorous, while also a thought-provoking piece of social commentary.

Samantha Grossman’s article for TIME entitled IKEA Really Wants You to Put Your Phone Away and Enjoy Your Life explains IKEA Taiwan’s innovation: “Many of us also use our smartphones when we’re out to dinner with friends and family instead of, you know, engaging in human interaction. With that in mind, IKEA Taiwan has unveiled an invention to get us all to unplug during mealtime It’s a special hot pot table that’s powered by smartphones—so it requires everyone at the table to surrender their devices and place them below the pot. If someone removes his phone, the heat drops and the food will not get cooked properly (Grossman). In this way, IKEA Taiwan’s hot pot table serves as a behavioral control device that forces everyone at the table to be mentally present at the dinner table. While the dining family was originally taken aback by the prospect of parting from their technology, by the end of their meal they realize how much more enjoyable their dinner was without their phones. Waka at Appnova’s article entitled Five of the best IKEA marketing campaigns ever, highlights IKEA Taiwan’s “hyper-localised” hot pot campaign: “The campaign brings out a salient point to family dinner tables: the lack of meaningful conversations as everybody is just too busy checking their smartphones. Solution: A hot plate that will only turn on when there are enough phones under it. Outcome? Real human interaction and great customer experience. Not to mention that it generated a buzz too” (Waka). This ad spread like wildfire online and through social media, not just in Taiwan, but around the world. IKEA Taiwan’s hot pot table campaign created a widespread buzz because of its universal message that touched the hearts of people worldwide. Smartphone users around the globe, from Asia to Europe to the Americas and beyond, can relate to the feeling of emotional disconnect when it comes to using smartphones at the dinner table. Perhaps we should all invest in IKEA’s phoneless dinner table to get a break from the internet and focus on the people around the table who matter most.

Link to the official video: https://youtu.be/3qw7Gigsctk

L’Ami Ricoré: The French Facebook Bot to Enjoy with Your Brew

Nestlé’s Ricoré instant coffee/chicory « café chichorée »  brand has been growing in popularity since its creation in 1953. This brand is primarily in the French market, but is also established in Belgium, Poland, and South Africa. Notably, the Ricoré brand is known for its fun and vibrant advertisements, featuring the tagline: « L‘ami du petit déjeuner », which translates to “the friend of breakfast”. On September 12, 2016, Ricoré launched its newest and most innovative campaign yet: L’ami Ricoré. L’ami Ricoré (the Ricoré friend), is a Facebook Messenger bot that wakes you up in the morning with a humorous message while you enjoy your morning coffee in order to start your day off right. Ricoré accompanied the bot launch with the catchphrase:  « L’ami Ricoré: de bonne humeur, de bon matin », or L’ami Ricoré: Good humor, good morning. As explained in Soline Demenois’ article entitled, The best digital campaigns in France in 2016:

“In 2016, the brand stood out in French media by offering a unique service to its consumers —L’Ami Ricoré. Hard to put you in a good mood in the morning? Well, not anymore! Start a Facebook Messenger conversation with L’Ami Ricoré, and tell your new buddy at what time you are usually setting your alarm up. From now on, every morning, the Messenger bot will wake you up with a funny message (cute pandas, crazy dances, or whatever content that will put a smile on you). This ingenious service was introduced through the use of a very short clip promoted online to journalists as well as on social media” (Soline Demenois). 

The launch of the  L’ami Ricoré Facebook messenger bot is an innovative step in the direction of incorporating artificial intelligence into their brand’s marketing campaign. In Gabriel Teisson’s article entitled « Ricoré lance un bot Facebook Messenger qui vous réveille le matin » (Translation: Ricoré launched a Facebook Messenger bot that wakes you up in the morning), he explained that, « Partant du constat que le premier geste du matin est de checker son smartphone, la marque a décidé de s’installer dans ce petit rituel en proposant un service unique  » (Gabriel Teisson). The translation of this quote is: “Drawing on the basis that the first thing people do in the morning is check their smartphone, the brand decided to install themselves into this small ritual by proposing a unique service” (Gabriel Teisson). The bot perfectly aligns with Ricoré’s brand image, which is to brighten everyone’s morning. Since Ricoré’s advertisements are historically humorous, utilizing a bot that allows their customers to enjoy a funny gif or video each morning with their coffee is a perfect fit. The L’ami Ricoré bot helps Ricoré establish the brand as an essential element of two key morning rituals, both modern and traditional: checking your phone’s notifications and enjoying your morning coffee. Gabriel Teisson adds:« Le bot sera votre première notification de la journée qui vous décrochera un sourire, chaque matin. » (Gabriel Teisson), which means: “The bot will be your first notification of the day that will make you smile, every morning” (Gabriel Teisson). Launching L’ami Ricoré bot was a good marketing decision for the international brand because it signaled to customers that it could change with the times by incorporating modern social media technology into their marketing campaigns, all while starting their customers day with a smile.

I added L’ami Ricoré bot to my Facebook Messenger to try out the comical service myself. The bot is currently only in French. Find my screenshot, and corresponding translation, below:

- Hello, I hope that you are well!
- Do you want to receive our "plenty of humor" posts each day? Can you respond, giving me the hour you wake up please? (ex: 7:28). 
-It's noted. So I will send you a message at 10:30am. Should I send them during the weekend too?

Watch the commercial for L’ami Ricoré here, find the translation below:

 - L'ami Ricoré. Contact us on Facebook Messenger!
 - It's crazy that one simple message could make your morning good.
 - L'ami Ricoré, Good humor, good morning. 

Facebook message reads:
 - Good morning, to receive your dose of good humor each morning, simply send us the time you wake up.
 - 7:45am.
 - Hello Louis, today is Friday, no need to say more!
 -(sends funny dancing gif)
 - L'ami Ricoré. Contact us on Facebook Messenger!

Steps to Prevent a Translation Faux Pas

Steps to Prevent a Translation Faux Pas

Translation is one of the most important aspects of International Marketing. Even the most powerful brands can make a mistake, and it can oftentimes be a detrimental blow for the brand image that can be expensive to reverse. Companies can learn from other’s past mistakes, and establish preventative measures that help reduce the likelihood of an occurrence of a translation misstep. Some of the most infamous translation failures caused problems for brands such as Coors, KFC, and Mercedes-Benz, to name a few. Geoffrey James published an article on Inc.com entitled, 20 Epic Fails in Global Branding, where he listed some of the most embarrassing translation errors that companies have made in their international marketing campaigns.  These included the following five blunders:

  1. Coors translated its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish, where it is a colloquial term for having diarrhea. (James)
  2. Ford blundered when marketing the Pinto in Brazil because the term in Brazilian Portuguese means “tiny male genitals.” (James)
  3. Frank Perdue’s tagline, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” got translated into Spanish as “It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate.” (James)
  4. KFC made Chinese consumers a bit apprehensive when “finger licking good” was translated as “eat your fingers off.” (James)
  5. Mercedes-Benz entered the Chinese market under the brand name “Bensi,” which means “rush to die.” (James)

While these botched translations are comical to us, they can cost a fortune for companies to fix. One expensive example is HSBC Bank’s global campaign. As explained in Chad Brooks’ Business News Daily article entitled, Lost in Translation: 8 International Marketing Fails , “In 2009, the worldwide bank spent millions of dollars to scrap its 5-year-old “Assume Nothing” campaign. Problems arose when the message was brought overseas, where it was translated in many countries as “Do Nothing.” In the end, the bank spent $10 million to change its tagline to “The world’s private bank,” which has a much more friendly translation” (Brooks). In order to prevent costly translation faux pas, the following are six steps that companies can take to help ensure success.

  1. Learn from other companies’ mistakes – Just because you can translate a catch-phrase directly, does not mean you should. As we saw with KFC’s “finger-lickin good” blunder described above, direct translations of idioms rarely translate across cultures. Brands should hire advertising firms that are native to the host country to come up with idiomatic phrases that fit instead of translating existing ones.
  2. Hire more than one native speaker from multiple regions – Different regions have different slang, pronunciations, and colloquial idioms, which should be accounted for by hiring multiple translators, each coming from various regions within the country. Also, since slang and word meanings can vary within the different socioeconomic classes of a community, companies can ask members of various socioeconomic backgrounds to interpret the meanings of the campaign’s slogans and messages. These interpretations can then be translated back to the company’s home language.
  3. Utilize back translation and parallel translation methods – Back translation is when translators interpret a translation and translate it back to the home language in order to find discrepancies in the different translations. Parallel translation is when translators each translate simultaneously and then the differences are minimized. Each of these methods can help companies prevent translation errors.
  4. Test it out before the big campaign – Author Jim Collins’ quote: “Shoot bullets before cannonballs” (Collins), perfectly exemplifies how companies should approach international marketing campaigns. First, a company should test out the campaign on a small segment of the population in order to accumulate feedback, and make any needed adjustments before the big launch. This way, if there is a translation error, it can be caught before the damage is too widespread. After learning from the successful small-scale “bullet” launch, the company can then launch the full-scale “cannonball” campaign.
  5. Don’t assume your company’s name and slogan must stay exactly the same – When translating the marketing campaign, make sure to take into account that the current domestic slogan, and even the brand name itself, may need to be altered to adapt to the new country’s culture. Even the way the brand name is pronounced may need to be adapted, as Coca-Cola figured out in their expansion to China.
  6. Double check, triple check – When in doubt, always double check. If a brand is launching a new international marketing  campaign, they should double check the translations and reactions with as many people as a company can afford. While surveying and testing may be expensive and time consuming, a full-fledged mistake can be much more costly in the long run.





Intermarché – The Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables (Les Fruits and Légumes Moches)

Intermarché – The Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables (Les Fruits & Légumes Moches)

One of the most notable international marketing campaigns in recent years was not only imaginative, but also shared a environmentally-friendly message. Marcel WW launched a campaign for Intermarché, a French super market, back in 2014 that changed the way consumers thought about produce. “To fight against food waste, Intermarché, the 3rd largest supermarket chain in France, decided to sell (30% cheaper) the non-calibrated and imperfect fruits and vegetables: “the inglorious fruits and vegetables” (marcelww). These imperfect fruits and vegetables are usually rejected by consumers, wasted, and thrown away by supermarkets. This contributes to a growing percentage of food waste internationally. The goal was to rebrand “inglorious” fruit, “Intermarché launched a massive global campaign to rehabilitate and glorify them”(marcelww).  

Marcel’s campaign of “Les Fruits et Légumes Moches”, aimed to shed light on the issue of food waste and to educate consumers to make more environmentally-conscious decisions. It spread the message that even though the “inglorious” produce is not perfect, it tastes just the same and provides the same amount of nutrients. This marketing campaign included discounted inglorious produce displays, inglorious fruit juice and soup samples for cautious consumers, as well as print, billboard, tv, radio, and social media advertising. The idea took off, and the sustainable message touched the hearts of people worldwide. People all over the world spread the message on TV news broadcasts, print and online news articles, blog posts, personal social media sites, and private messages to friends.

Why was the campaign so shareable? Not only was the rebranding campaign socially and environmentally responsible, it was also comedic and visually eye-catching. The inglorious fruits and vegetables were portrayed in a way that is reminiscent of caricature portraits of movie characters. Each edible character was given its own offbeat name, personality, and tagline. “A Grotesque Apple”, “The Ugly Carrot”, and “The Failed Lemon” were uniquely shaped, but were under the spotlight and showcased as if they were flawless celebrities. The Inglorious campaign was the perfect combination of funny, witty, unique, and socially responsible that caused it to be spread virally. As noted on the Marcel WW website, the message of the campaign reached 21 million people after only one month. The Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables campaign was the “1st most shared article in the history of LSA (N°1 professional French retailer magazine)” and there were “1.2 Tons of sales per store on average during the first 2 days, resulting in a 24% increase in overall store traffic” (marcelww). In the following excerpt, Marcel Worldwide describes the results of the campaign:

In October 2014, Intermarché was elected “champion of advertising innovation” in France (Source: Advertising Innovation Observatory 2014, runned by Dufresne Corrigan Scarlett, Influencia and Opinion Way). In February 2014, the “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” campaign was elected as the French favourite campaign of the year. (Source: Ipsos Public Awards). Last but not least, this campaign was a real lever to change the whole category. Following our path 3 big French retailers launched their own ugly fruits and vegetables aisle: Auchan, Monoprix and Leclerc under the name “les Gueules Cassées.” International similar initiatives also emerged, following our campaign.

There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables campaign and the story of the popular campaign continues to spread internationally through social media. In all, the popularity of the campaign has not only improved the international brand awareness of Intermarché, but has also helped educate consumers and reduce the waste of the many almost-perfect fruits and vegetables.


Airbnb’s Aggressive International Expansion

Airbnb, a home sharing two-sided online platform, is shaking up the hotel industry and rapidly expanding internationally. Airbnb is one of the many new platform-based companies that have harnessed the power of online communities to drive international growth. As an online platform that pairs consumers with homeowners looking to rent their spaces, Airbnb has been able to enter foreign markets with relatively little investment, since the company does not own the properties that are listed for rent on the site. After its founding in San Francisco in 2008, Airbnb has grown exponentially, with “hosts in more than 35,000 cities and 191 countries. The amount of total guests using Airbnb has surpassed 60 million in 2015” (Mylotrade, 2016). Airbnb now has international offices in Spain, Germany, China, Ireland, England, Italy, India, France, Brazil, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, Japan, Canada, and in several strategic locations within the United States. Their famous tag line, “Don’t Go There. Live There.” has targeted the millennial generation, encouraging travelers to truly experience cities by “living there” in a local’s accommodations, as opposed to staying in an expensive cookie-cutter, standardized hotel room.

An Airbnb listing in Paris, France
An Airbnb listing in Paris, France

Airbnb has created a new way to travel and experience a foreign destination while allowing customers from different market segments to choose their price limits and preferred level of privacy. Savvy Airbnb travelers can book anything from a budget-friendly shared rooms to luxurious private homes or even medieval castles!

Airbnb’s popularity has grown enormously since its founding in 2008. Its two-sided online platform benefits both the homeowners and the renters, providing Bed and Breakfast owners the ability to reach a huge amount of potential customers while supplying unique lodging options for customers with many different specifications. Airbnb’s ability to serve both sides of their online community has attracted more and more buyers and sellers over the years. The Airbnb online platform has benefited greatly from a “network effect”, since the service Airbnb provides increases in value for customers on each of the two sides of the platform as more people join the community. This growing popularity, and the profits earned through fees charged to customers who book through the site, have enabled Airbnb to enter emerging markets and create a global presence. One such market is the newly opened country of Cuba. As discussed in Mylo Trade’s article, Airbnb “continues to expand aggressively into new foreign markets: when Cuba became more open to American businesses last December, Airbnb jumped in. Airbnb already has more than 1,000 listings in Cuba” (Mylotrade, 2016). Michael Weissenstein’s article with the Business Insider stated that Airbnb’s international expansion to Cuba was “the most significant U.S. business expansion on the island since the declaration of detente between the two countries” (Weissenstein, 2015). Airbnb’s rapid international expansion and growing global community is a testament to the power of online platforms in the modern marketplace.

Airbnb expands to Cuba
Airbnb expands to Cuba

The internet’s growing influence through social media and online communities has fueled a rapid globalization of international markets. As the popularity of platforms such as Airbnb increases, worldwide markets will continue to unify into one global competitive market, and the international expansion strategies of existing competitors will be forced to evolve.