Christmas in July – a lesson in multicultural content marketing

Posted By Axonn on 31st July 2014

It’s the hottest day of the year so far and I’m Googling Christmas carols, imagining the smell of gl├╝hwein and thinking of mistletoe and wine. No, dear readers, I’ve not lost my baubles (yet) – but I am planning content for the festive season in July.

Christmas in July

It wasn’t always this way. I used to be the type of content marketer who kicked myself when coming up with fantastic seasonal content ideas as the season is in full swing already, always vowing: “Never again! I’ll plan my seasonal content months in advance next time.”

This year things are different. And that’s why I currently have Jingle Bells stuck in my head.

But being organised isn’t the only thing that’s different in my approach this year. Over the last year, we’ve increasingly started working with a large number of organisations based across Europe, and with that came a bigger, more diverse audience.

This necessitates a change in how we approach content, and while we still haven’t perfected the art (does anyone ever perfect the art in our fast-moving industry?), I believe we have learned some valuable lessons already about multicultural content strategies.

Why are multicultural content strategies important?

The theory is easy enough to explain in simple terms. Organisations need their audience to perform certain actions that contribute to the bottom line. The best way to ensure this happens is to build relationships through quality content marketing that engages with them on a deep level. The best way to present such content to an individual is in their own language and cultural context. That second bit is important. It’s no good simple getting someone to translate your English content into Swedish/German/Russian.

The language you speak is only one element of who you are. Language is only one element of culture, and to ignore the finer nuances and layers of what makes content culturally relevant is a dangerous game to play for any marketer.

multicultural content marketing

Nothing illustrates this point quite as well as when planning content for the festive season. In Finland, celebrations peak on Christmas Eve, whereas in Russia Christmas isn’t celebrated until January 7th (when those of us in the UK are recovering from festive excesses and all the sales). Can you see the problems you’ll run into if you took content written for a UK audience and merely translated it to Finnish and Russian? Not only will you fail to engage your audiences in Finland and Russia, but you may actively put them off your brand.

The solution? Well our approach for both our own content and that we create for our clients is one of transcreation. For each piece of content we have a single objective/message, as well as some shared source material. This is clearly communicated to local content creators who then create unique pieces that are culturally relevant and engaging to local audiences.

Now I fully appreciate this approach could make some marketers nervous. After all, we like to be in control of our brand messaging, and if it were up to us we’d check and vet every word ever said in our name, right? But unless you speak all the same languages as your target audiences, and have first-hand and current experience of their local cultures, you are going to have to trust local experts if you want to be successful.

But don’t take my word for it. Brands like Coca-Cola and have got multicultural content nailed. They told us all about it in a white paper we co-produced with EnVeritas Group last year, which we have relaunched this week. You can download it via the Slideshare below.