GLOBAL BRIEF: BBH initiates adaptation arm - Caroline Marshall reports on the set-up that has to adapt as well as translate

Copy that addresses the nuances of a particular national market is vital to successful global advertising, but - as the embarrassing gaffes in many international campaigns testify - it isn’t always best handled by the local office of the agency that created the campaign.

Copy that addresses the nuances of a particular national market is

vital to successful global advertising, but - as the embarrassing gaffes

in many international campaigns testify - it isn’t always best handled

by the local office of the agency that created the campaign.



Hence the existence of outfits like World Writers - an advertising

adaptation company that has successfully sold its knowledge of local

culture, laws and language to agencies and advertisers since 1992. This

is an area that agencies have traditionally left to such specialists -

until now.



Bartle Bogle Hegarty, famous for its anti-network stance and for ’doing

it all from London’ (its Singapore office aside) is attempting to

increase its penetration of international markets by setting up BBH

Writers. A string of local copywriters fluent in main European languages

apart from English - French, Spanish, Italian and German - has been

recruited to adapt core creative ideas developed in London.



BBH Writers is born as the agency celebrates a second Queen’s Award for

Export Achievement, a testament to the fact that out of its 31 clients,

15 require multinational advertising. Since winning its first award, it

has signed up four new international clients: Metaxa, Time magazine,

Perfetti and Cointreau.



According to Elizabeth de Vise, the head of international copy

production at BBH, ads are ads, not just pieces of text. Advertising

copy cannot be translated, she argues, it needs to be adapted, while

recognising that markets are different, consumers are different and that

advertising conventions and languages are different.



De Vise denies that BBH Writers is an attempt to muscle in on the

advertising adaptation market that has effectively belonged to World

Writers for years, but it certainly owes something to the tough stance

on all production costs instigated by Mark Collier, BBH’s head of

production. ’We are still working with other adaptation companies,’ de

Vise says. ’But our international workload is growing and BBH Writers

will be more cost efficient.’



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