Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

How brands are gearing up for the mother of all competitions: McDonald’s (Japan)

No Comments » Written on June 3rd, 2014 by
Categories: Japan
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In the run-up to this summer’s football frenzy, McDonald’s Japan has added some alternative country-specific options to their menu, such as a “France burger” and a “Spanish omelette muffin”. See below for their TV ad:

The Brazil burger, which features football-shaped buns, is already creating a buzz on Twitter, with lots of Japanese people sharing their amusement in photos and posts.

McDonald’s Japan is also encouraging customers to vote for their favourite promotional burger via various social media platforms. The incentive is a QR code that offers you a discount on a promotional meal that changes every week (see screenshots below).

However, this seems like quite a long-winded process and the discount campaign has attracted some negative comments on Japanese social media. In a country where efficiency is revered, it is unlikely that many Japanese consumers will feel the desire to participate in such a time-consuming exercise.

One perplexed Japanese commentator wrote: “Why don’t they offer ‘British burgers’ as part of the campaign menu? Football was invented in England! They should at least have fish and chips!!” Now that’s food for thought.

17_McDonalds (Japan)2


17_McDonalds (Japan)


How brands are gearing up for the mother of all competitions: Sony (Japan)

No Comments » Written on June 1st, 2014 by
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Sony hosted a “keepie-uppie” competition for talented youngsters keen to demonstrate their skills. After qualifying for the competition by submitting videos showing what they were capable of, the kids were put through their paces in 60-second one-on-one battles before being given 90 seconds on their own to impress the judges.

The entrants displayed a remarkable level of skill, especially considering they were aged between 12 and 17. In the end, six lucky winners were selected to take part in the opening ceremony as flag bearers for their country. It was a nice opportunity for Japan’s plucky football stars of tomorrow to show what they could do – and they are sure to associate Sony with golden opportunities in the future.

13_Sony (Japan)

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The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #26

Analogies should be handled with care. What is common in one country might be inappropriate or irrelevant in another. It is therefore important to use analogies that your target market is familiar with.

Walt Disney is an excellent example of how this can be done successfully. In the US, the Walt Disney World Resort is described as “half the size of Rhode Island”. But the analogy requires some knowledge of US geography.

So in Japan, the park is said to be “the size of the Tokyo subway system”, and in the UK, “the size of greater Manchester”. This makes the audience feel more included – and the copy more effective.

166_LBOT #26

The Little Book of Transcreation – excerpt #24

No Comments » Written on February 27th, 2014 by
Categories: Japan
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There is more to adapting communications for foreign markets than just translating – or even transcreating – the words.

A TV spot ad for Procter & Gamble’s soaps showed a man entering the bathroom while his wife was showering.

In the West, this is an entirely unremarkable scenario. However, in Japan the husband’s actions were seen as an unacceptable invasion of privacy. This seemingly innocuous ad was therefore considered to be in very poor taste.

164_LBOT #24

Manchester United star Shinji Kagawa’s quotes are lost in translation

No Comments » Written on September 13th, 2013 by
Categories: Japan, UK
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Japanese midfielder’s supposed criticism of Manchester United’s David Moyes was born of mistranslation and misinterpretation

Shinji Kagawa Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa made the supposed critical quotes of David Moyes after Japan’s 3-1 win over Ghana. Photograph: Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

There has been bemusement in Japan over the past day or so concerning the widespread stories in the British sporting media over comments allegedly made by Shinji Kagawa in which he appears critical of David Moyes, his manager at Manchester United. The fallout has puzzled Japanese observers not only because the 24-year-old’s reported bluntness seems out of character but also because the more damning quotes did not appear in a single domestic media source.

Those of us in the mixed zone in Yokohama after Japan’s 3-1 friendly win over Ghana on Tuesday, where Kagawa spent five minutes or so speaking in his native tongue to a packed mêlée of journalists before leaving, were moved to trawl back through audio files and transcripts to see what it was we had missed. As usual any individual interview requests had been rebuffed so we all had the same quotes and there was no sense at the time that his manner had been anything other than politely bland and uncontroversial.

So, to paraphrase Glenn Hoddle, did Kagawa actually say them things?

No, he did not. Well, yes, perhaps he did sort of but not really. The reason that infamous line – “Please ask David Moyes why I’m not in the side” – never appeared in the Japanese press was not down to any sort of cover-up but simply because Kagawa had politely dismissed the associated question and thus offered nothing that most journalists present considered worth transcribing.

Faced with a potentially loaded question about why the new man in charge at Old Trafford was not picking him, the midfielder – who rarely appears to enjoy his media engagements but is skilled enough to deal almost purely in textbook clichés – understandably opted to avoid putting words into anyone else’s mouth. A more correctly nuanced translation of his throwaway response would be thus: “You would have to ask David Moyes.”

The problem when the quotes reached the United Kingdom was with the interpretation of the word ‘please’. “Please ask David Moyes” is undoubtedly a pretty accurate, literal translation but, when taken in isolation, there is leeway within the English to see this as a plea or cry for help: For God’s sake, please, my loyal friends in the press, go all the way to Manchester for me and ask that horrible new Scotsman why he does not love me so.

Such a nuance is not present in the Japanese word kudasai, which in this instance serves to soften Kagawa’s response so as to come across more politely to his questioner when declining actually to answer. Not unlike the ‘please’ in ‘two pints of Guinness, please’, it adds no real meaning but simply prevents the utterance from sounding curt, like a demand.

A mistranslation of another quote from the interview, this time one that did appear in the Japanese press, served to exacerbate the misunderstanding. In English, Kagawa was reported to have said: “Some days the frustration is worse than others – it comes in waves.” This alone might lead us to the wonderfully evocative image of everything getting too much for poor Shinji and it all coming crashing down like breakers on the shore.

The word nami certainly does mean ‘wave’ – it is the second character in tsunami, for example – but unfortunately, in the particular instance of this quote, the nuance is closer to that of a sine wave. In colloquial English, a more familiar expression would be ‘ups and downs’. Here, Kagawa had just been speaking of his determination to take his opportunity at United when it next arrives, when he was asked if he feels under pressure at the moment. A tentative re-translation of his response would read as follows:

“Well, one always has ups and downs mentally/emotionally but I’m very much looking forwards/positively and working hard.”

One rather idiosyncratic issue here comes with contextual deletion. Translation between Japanese and English is notoriously difficult and one of the major reasons for this is the ability of the speaker within the former to omit all manner of sentence elements – subject, object, even verb – where the implied meaning is clear by context.

Unfortunately for the translator, these generally need to be put back in again to make sense in English and a fair amount of guesswork would be required if taking the sentence in isolation. Of course, in this case the necessary context could have been restored by looking at the actual question, what Kagawa had said immediately beforehand, and indeed the “looking forwards” half of the quote which was evidently cut off by the time it made the British newspapers.

Let us get one thing straight, however – I am loth to blame the journalists present for any mistranslation and misinterpretation. For the agencies in particular, deadlines to file reports and quotes after evening matches are incredibly tight even when working in only one language.

The real crux of the matter is that there are very few people, not least within an average press room, with a native or near-native command of Japanese and English. And, as any professional translator knows, mastery of multiple languages is no guarantee of the skill to interpret accurately between them.

Even among the European languages that do translate reasonably literally with one another, international breaks have always been rife with controversies involving footballers speaking to the press in their home countries only to find – or claim – that their words have been misrepresented elsewhere when they return to their clubs.

The potential for error between Japanese and English, which are not genetically related (unlike, say, Dutch and English), is significantly greater. However, the truth is that many quotes will be gathered by journalists with full command of either original or target language – but not both – then crudely translated to be polished for publication later. Often, the hurried translation process involves little more than asking a similarly busy, in this case Japanese journalist, for the basic gist.

The potential need for specialist translation here is only now starting to become apparent as more Japanese footballers play for bigger European clubs and attract a more global profile. It is a shame, however, that a couple of genuinely benign quotes have warped to serve the ludicrous Free Kagawa agenda. Even Southampton’s Maya Yoshida, whose brief July break was not interrupted by the two club friendlies Kagawa had to play against J League sides, said last Friday – in excellent English – that only now does he feel ready to start a Premier League match again after travelling to the Far East, Middle East and South America with the national team this summer.

The United man is the kind of player who wants to play in every game but from where I was standing his clearest source of frustration after the past two Japan fixtures was that he had to talk to the press in the first place.

Article taken from The Guardian on 13 September.

A beautiful example of cultural diversity.

1 Comment » Written on March 24th, 2010 by
Categories: Japan
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Soy sauce, sweet potato, wasabi, grilled corn … no we’re not listing the ingredients of a delicious far eastern dish, these are in fact the different exotic flavours of a new range of Kit Kats recently launched by Nestlé in Japan!

Nestlé’s Japanese strategy started three years ago with just a handful of flavours but has since escalated into a national phenomenon. Now there are 19 different varieties to choose from, each one only sold in the region for which it was created. Other strange flavours include green tea, salt and caramel, yuzu citrus and Japanese chilli, soybean flour, edamame, and hot chilli.

The beauty of Nestlé’s Kit Kat concept is that it plays on Japan’s love of souvenirs (or “omiyage” as they call them). In Japan, if you go away on a trip, it is customary to bring back a gift for your friends or colleagues. As a result, every region has its own signature treats, which are sold in omiyage shops all across Japan. The exotic flavoured Kit Kats are perfectly suited to this tradition.

The deal with the recently privatised Japanese post office is also particularly impressive. In Japan, there is a tradition of sending students good luck wishes before they take an exam. Nestlé discovered that the Japanese translation of Kit Kat (Kitto Katso) means “surely win”. They therefore decided to team up with Japan’s postal service to create “Kit Kat mail” – a postcard-like product that could be mailed to students as an edible good-luck charm.

Unfortunately for us (or fortunately depending on how you look at it!), this Kit Kat concept is unique to Japan, so chocolate lovers in other countries shouldn’t expect to see exotic local flavours. I personally can’t quite imagine a Yorkshire pudding, Lancashire hotpot or Haggis flavoured Kit Kat anyway, can you?!

Soy sauce flavour                                                            Sweet potato flavour

Content based on article from adage

Kit Kat is a registered trademark of Nestlé

Amy from London, UK

MacDonald's makeover in Japan

1 Comment » Written on February 11th, 2010 by
Categories: Japan
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MacDonald’s (or Makku as people call it in Japan) is the most successful fast food chain in our country. You can see the familiar red and yellow M signs near practically every train station in every major city.

There are also specially developed menus for Japanese customers, including items such as the Teriyaki burger, the Ebi-fillet-O (Shrimp burger, my favourite!) the Bacon-lettuce burger, and the seasonal Tsukimi-burger (burger with egg). This year, they are releasing a series of American burgers for a limited period only, and the first Texas burger and New York burger have had a good reception from the Japanese public.

Makku’s business is as good as ever, with net profit for December 2009 being at its highest point since it went public. Recently, the fast food giant announced that it would be giving its restaurants a new look and a new menu, closing 433 shops and relocating 633 more to more lucrative areas across the country in the process.

Check out Makku’s new stylish outlets and uniforms here:

When another American burger chain, Wendy’s closed its business in Japan in December 2009, lots of people went to the restaurants to bid farewell. There were long queues outside, and hand written “sorry we are all sold out” signs to be seen.

What can I say? Burgers and Fries. Japanese people are lovin’ it.

Junko from Japan