It’s much more common to see English straplines abroad than to see foreign ones in the UK. This is arguably because our understanding of foreign languages is far more limited than our international counterparts, so ad agencies prefer to play it safe. That said, several slogans have still proved a hit. Audi’s famous “Vorsprung durch technik” is one such phrase. Only a handful of people know its actual meaning, but it’s associated with German efficiency and technical savvy, and therefore delivers the right message.
Other foreign taglines, however, have proved less popular in the English-speaking world – and indeed in the market for which they were created! A recent tagline from the Philippines department of tourism (DOT), for example, was a real flop: “Pilipinas kay Ganda” is a common Filipino expression that literally means “Philippines So Beautiful”. The DOT said that the line is used to express appreciation for anything – from people and landscapes to music, food and even attitude. It also added that it used the word “Pilipinas” instead of the more familiar English “Philippines” as the Tagalog word captures the “renewed pride and hope they’re feeling” as a country.
The Tagalog tagline meets strong opposition.
However, within hours of the launch, the line was met with a barrage of criticism. Many local people felt the new slogan lacked the oomph of the old line (Wow Philippines!) and were worried that it wouldn’t be understood by the very market it was trying to address. What’s more, the site had to be moved to a new address because the original one was very similar to that of a pornography site (just one letter difference)! The DOT was also accused of plagiarizing the logo from Poland. All in all, it wasn’t a great start for a new campaign!
The DOT defended its slogan by saying they had deliberately opted for Tagalog in an attempt to differentiate themselves from their neighbours who have all chosen English words to describe their character. It also felt the line was a conversation-starter and a way for foreigners to engage more closely with the country’s culture.
An unhappy end.
In spite of this defence, the line was still scrapped. What’s more, the DOT Undersecretary Vicente Romano resigned. I wonder whether they will revert back to the old tagline or come up with a totally new one: and if so, will they stick to English?!
Amy from London, UK