Italian Pasta Pride and International Localisation

Written by Davide Corradi

Last night I was watching a program on TV when I saw a infamous pizza delivery company advertising a new kind of regional Italian style pasta called “Tuscani, Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese“. Right.

Tuscani Pasta Whatever

I have to admit I’m quite sensitive about pizza, pasta, wine and every kind of food that comes from Italy… But yesterday something else caught my attention. There was something annoyingly wrong in that commercial, something I couldn’t focus immediately:

Was it the fact that cheddar doesn’t exist in Italy? Or that these are SO not “Maccheroni” but “Fusilli”? Or maybe was just an uncontrollable reaction to that image that would probably make my Grandma twisting in her grave?
No, it was something else… it was something subtle and disturbing… It was the product name! Tuscani!!!

Tuscani… What does it mean? That’s not English (it would be Tuscany, wouldn’t be?) neither Italian (it is Toscana check it out). So…WHY? Or even better: WTF? Why on earth would you misspell it? Call it in another way, call it Mario, Luigi, call it Pasta (mmmh that would be clever…), whatever, really, I don’t care. But this looks really like a bad translation, even worst: a superficial translation.
Ok, it is pasta (well… Ok: whatever!) and the name “sounds a bit Italian” I have to admit but with things that “sounds a bit” you’ll go no where! Do not take things for granted, do not be superficial!

Whenever you are trying to develop an off line or online strategy to enter a new market, especially if we are talking about International markets you need to be sure of a few basic things:

First of all: don’t get “lost in translation”. Be sure that the content of your website, your PPC campaign, your whole online marketing strategy are actually written in the language of the market you are trying to penetrate. Having a superficial translation is not only ineffective but it may be even counterproductive.

Second: do not translate. Localise. A localised content is not only a well translated piece of work. Localise means that you are actually targeting what people are searching (a classic example is the evergreen Vacations vs Holidays or Localization vs Localisation), when they are searching (in Argentina the keyword “vacaciones nieve” – snow holidays – is much more popular in June and July than in December), in the way they are searching (users in Japan are more likely to access the Internet from cell phones than PCs).

Third: be aware of cultural difference or you will just shoot yourself in the foot (Who want to buy a Ford’s Pinto in Brazil or drink a Starbucks Latte in Germany?): British jokes may not be understood in Italy (and in most of the world I have to say Ah! Ah! ah!.. ehm.. sorry guys!!), Spanish expression may be found offensive in Algeria and so on.

make your researches, try to understand the local community you are targeting. It’s not an easy task, it takes time and resources. If you can’t or if you don’t have the time, don’t try to do something just for the sake of doing it! It takes ages to build a reputation, one second to destroy it. Hire a Multilingual SEO Company that use trained native speakers. They will do the job for you!

People are different, cultures are fascinating:  Localise involve much more than putting a list of (key)words in the right order.  Establishing an international credibility, engaging with costumers it’s not really just a piece of cake. Not even a pasta dish. OK, I’m hungry now…


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