Multicultural Marketing: How to Prevent Mishaps

The things they say in one corner of the world may hold a very different meaning in another. If you’re in America, saying the word “gift” will probably earn you a smile from a stranger. But in Germany, the exact same word connotes poison, which is obviously a far less welcome item. And this is when multicultural marketing best practices come into play. Without paying attention to multi cultural competency, you can easily find yourself in a cultural catastrophe.

In the UK, young men often refer to a lady as a “bird,” but someone from the USA will imagine, well, a bird when you bring that word up. Multicultural marketing is a tricky subject, and to avoid mishaps, it’s essential to understand that language is about so much more than just words.

Localization Flops That Set the Bar

To help highlight the importance of localization, here’s a look at some severe blunders that set the example of what not to do when it comes to multicultural marketing:

When Coca-Cola initially launched in China, it was done with a literal translation. What did it come out as? “Bite the Wax Tadpole.” After realizing the blunder, Coke quickly changed its slogan to read ‘Delicious and Happy.”

Groupon ran a commercial at the 2011 US Super Bowl promoting half-price deals on The problem was that they likened the plight of a person in need of coupons to a Tibetan monk. Needless to say, the message wasn’t well received at all, leading to the ad being immediately pulled.

Nestlé Group learned a hard lesson when they had to rebrand their Gerber baby food labels for the African market. Initially, the label was that of a baby’s face. The problem was that many of the locals couldn’t read labels and thought the label’s image was a literal description of what was inside the bottle.

Why Localization Matters in a Multicultural Marketing Strategy

There are a plethora of cultural issues to take into consideration when translating and culturally adapting your marketing strategy. Transcreation, which is the process of adapting a message from one language and culture to another while maintaining the original intent, style, tone, and context, is but one aspect of multicultural marketing.

It is also important to deploy multimedia and website localization to ensure that all your media looks and says in words and graphics exactly what your brand intends to do in different parts of the world. Your advertising campaigns must fit the culture you’re targeting, and to do that; You might need to adjust your content and assess its suitability to each target culture it will reach.

Cultural Nuances that Matter in Multicultural Marketing

Individual vs. Collective

While Americans might value individualism, other cultures that are more collective-minded may find the message offense. So, although a message of a motorcyclist on the open road might portray happiness and bliss to Americans, it might be an alienating idea to the Indian marketing and result in a total misfire.


Stereotypes can be just as offensive. Americans don’t want to hear that they dress funny. And highly educated British people don’t accept being called “snobs.” French people feel offended for always being portrayed as holding a baguette with cheese. It’s essential to test your ideas through market research to assess their acceptance. You also need to gauge the reaction with your target audience. At times, stereotypes used as part of a joke might be acceptable, but it’s not worth the risk if it can push the prospective customer away.


Let’s take Arabic cultures as the first example. Women in this culture are often covered. This can make it difficult to promote the sale of certain types of clothing. Next, Sweden. In this country, it might be more effective the market a new brand of washing detergent to men. Why? Well, because many men here use their paternity leave and tend to do household chores. But in many other parts of the world, it would be a total miss. It is therefore critical to weigh up gender roles across the globe so you can effectively adapt your language and images across your marketing campaigns.

You Need More Than Just a Broad Understanding. Trust the Experts and Get it Right the First Time with Your Multicultural Audiences

Marketing teams that are grappling with multicultural marketing must have a deep understanding of how to sell to unique market segments. Culturally adapting your message for each target audience is the best way to prevent mishaps in this regard.

In this post, we’ve highlighted a few suggestions that’ll help you build trust with your multicultural audience and display your cultural competency. Are you already implementing these in your marketing strategy? Have you adapted your message to fit the targeted culture yet?

Multicultural audiences require you to approach them with cultural competition. Your marketing efforts should be just as multifaceted as your diverse audience. Spreading your message in only one language will not yield results to help you penetrate the target audience.

Get in touch with Day Translations today to learn more about our bespoke range of transcreation, localization, and globalization services that’ll help your brand transcend the language and cultural barrier on the global stage and engage with a multicultural audience!

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