Lost in Translation
If not adopted properly, Hindi ads won't work in Tamil. This is the central theme of Gokul Krishnamurthy's interesting piece in Business Line. He cites examples of ads which have not connected with the audience because the message was literally translated to Tamil. On top of this, I have big issues with the kind of voices used to dub the Hindi ads into Tamil. One recent example was the ICICI Bank ad in which Shah Rukh appears to reassure people that the bank is safe. The voices used were really horrible.
Even the tagline ‘Ho toh BIG ho’ (If it has to be, it has to be big) has been unimaginatively translated as ‘Irundha BIG-ga irukkanum’.Let’s look at a different category. Fanta’s orangy blast story was refreshingly told with Laga Kya earlier this year. Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are said to be more inclined towards fruit-based flavours of soft drinks, making them strategically important markets for a brand such as Fanta. But when Laga Kya got translated into Tamil, the voiceover said: ‘Pattucha’.Contextually, there are some ads, and smart lines conceived for the pan-India audience, which cannot make as much of an impact when translated into regional languages. When a Virgin Mobile’s ‘Think Hatke’ becomes a ‘Maathi Yosi’, it loses some of its impact, but is still a better effort at reaching those audiences than persisting with the Hindi tagline. When a Philips DVD player’s ‘Plays anything, almost anything’ becomes ‘Edhaiyum play seyyum, Kita thatta edhaiyum’, one wonders who should be prosecuted.And then there’s the Samsung mobile commercial, which tries to ride on Don dialogue ‘Isko gayab karna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai’. Quite like Big TV’s ‘Mere paas maa hai’, this one too has been literally translated into ‘Idhai maraiya vaippadhu kashtam mattum alla, mudiyave mudiyadhu’. The line does get the message across. But what was the compulsion to use a literal translation? What is more important — sticking to the national TVC word-for-word or connecting with the audience with advertising they can relate to? (Link)
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