Hand it to locals

Sinister imagery in some countries.

How easy it is to put your foot in it. Or should I say hand in it.

This image was going to be used by a big German company for an HR brochure. It was only for internal purposes, so why pull in foreign agencies? Enough people already had their finger in the pie. Well, when the first draft went to local subsidiaries, the reactions raised a number of eyebrows back at HQ.

“You can take your own fair share” or “there’s a piece of the action for everyone” were the sorts of messages the image was supposed to convey. 

But the cake analogy was simply not understood in some countries.

In others, there was a major problem with the colour of the cake. Why pink? Isn’t that a bit gay?

And in others still, there was a definite cultural no-no. A westerner would only just make out the left hand grabbing the food in this image. By contrast, in many African or Islamic countries they would see this straight away – you’re considered an outcast if you eat with the left hand!

Solution: involve the locals in developing communications, internal and external. And that also means handing them the task of checking images, allusions and wording.

Alex Woodruff

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