Our resident blogger was recently in Brazil for some qualitative work with kids. To honor her adventurous spirit, I thought we’d talk a bit about ideas that travel.

There are a lot of things to consider when creating a global brand – but the ultimate goal is for your brand to speak with one voice no matter where it lives. I thought we’d look at just a few of the biggest pitfalls that we’ve seen in testing advertising around the globe.

1. Dialogue Heavy ads – A good rule of thumb when creating international advertising is to ask yourself if the dialogue carries the story. Basically if the story can be conveyed visually, the more likely the ad will translate. The Land Rover ad below needs no words. Ask a man in any country which pet he’d rather own and I bet you get the same answer.

2. Metaphors – While visual storytelling is generally good practice, metaphors – both verbal and visual – can be tricky. Some metaphors just don’t make sense in other countries. For example, the ad below shows a man in his kitchen making a snack. The ad asks who invented sliced bread, and playfully uses the familiar western idiom to sell consulting. Needless to say we saw confusion in Japan, where the sliced bread reference holds less meaning.



3. Humor – Simply put – it should be used carefully. The ad below ran in both the US and UK. Interestingly, in the UK few found the ad funny and no one found it offensive. This was a shock – as it made most of us in the office blush just reading it. Obviously, the UK audience didn’t get the sexual innuendo.

So while most of this seems like a no-brainer, timing constraints and budgets often stand in the way customizing your campaign for each country. So at the very least, keeping some of these guidelines in mind at the early stages of development can help make sure that your message travels.

Jessica Sanchez is a Research Director at Ameritest. She welcomes your thoughts and feedback.