“The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds...” – Edward Sapir

Research shows that if you’re still translating your French communications ‘as is’ into English, there’s a 75% chance you could be selling yourself short.

Jacques Bouchard’s book, Les 36 cordes sensibles des Québécois, provided a very astute analysis of the social fabric of Quebec, and continues to serve as a guide for all French advertising in the province.

I got my start in advertising adapting French ads into English for Jacques Bouchard, the man who invented French advertising in Quebec. Bouchard successfully made the case for creatively adapting – instead of merely translating – English advertising into French, even going as far as developing completely new creative if that’s what the market called for.

And Bouchard’s idea turned out to be exactly what the market called for. In an eight-year study, Ipsos ASI demonstrated that only 25% of the ads that were effective in English could be translated ‘as is’ into French and still work well in Quebec. That meant that 75% of English advertising would require varying degrees of adaptation – or even completely new creative – before it could be used in French.

Of course it also meant that only a small percentage of French material could be translated ‘as is’ into English as well. Most would have to be adapted to some degree or other to get satisfactory results in English. That’s where I came in. As BCP creative group head I was responsible for all the agency’s original English and French-to-English output.

Much to our clients’ delight, I found that this could be done by thinking outside the box and using the extraordinary depth and versatility of the English language...without requiring new visuals, layouts, and other costly components. It was something I did for clients day in and day out at BCP Advertising and something I continue doing today on a project basis for clients from every sector.

So, if you are still translating your French communications ‘as is’ into English, why not reduce the risk of selling yourself short? Send me your French material instead, and I’ll send you back English versions adapted with your English consumers in mind. You’ll see the difference right away...and so will they.

– Lawrence Creaghan

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