6 Examples of Successful and Controversial Transcreation

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There are numerous examples of transcreation that leave us both surprised and reflective on the importance of creativity in language conversion. This article will present typical examples of successful and controversial creative translation, ranging from iconic projects to groundbreaking steps that stirred the translation industry.

Let’s explore with Thao & Co. to gain a deeper understanding of the significance of creativity in the field of translation.

Understanding Creative Translation

Transcreation, also known as creative translation, is the process of transforming and reconstructing the message, emotions, and thoughts of a work from the source to the target language to fit the culture, feelings, and context of the target audience.

Unlike general translation, transcreation requires flexibility and creativity in recreating content, structure, and expressive style to produce a unique, relatable, and more effective version. 

Learn more about the differences between Transcreation vs. Translation to gain a better understanding of this topic.

Applications of Transcreation

Transcreation is often applied when translating content such as:

Advertising and marketing

Transcreation is used to create innovative advertising messages that resonate with the culture, language, and emotions of the target audience. This process enhances the interactivity and effectiveness of advertisements, attracting attention and prompting action from the target customers.

Transcreation Examples - Thao & Co.

Brand names and slogans

When translating brand names and slogans into another language, transcreation ensures that the meaning and effectiveness of the communication remain, creating a creative, impressive version that fits the context of the target market.

Arts and culture

When translating artistic, cultural, or fictional works, transcreation ensures that the emotions, style, and meaning of the work are effectively conveyed in the new language, helping the audience perceive and understand the original work deeply.

Creative content

Creative translation of articles, short stories, or media content helps create engaging, relatable versions that interact with the target audience. Transcreation ensures that the message and thoughts of the content are effectively transformed in the target language and culture.

Examples of successful creative translation

The success of creative translation has demonstrated the importance of understanding and respecting the target language and culture while delivering an excellent experience for international audiences. Here’s a look at some examples of transcreation that left a positive impact.


McDonald's : Localization Example - Thao & Co.

One of ex The French version of the slogan “I’m lovin’ it” was transcreated to “Venez comme vous êtes,” meaning “Come as you are.” This translation was widely used in every marketing campaign of McDonald’s in France.

The transcreated slogan “Venez comme vous êtes” conveys a welcoming message, encouraging people to enjoy McDonald’s products without changing themselves or their attire. It communicates that McDonald’s serves everyone, regardless of age, appearance, or personal style, reflecting freedom and diversity in French culture and values.

Samsung S6

The original English slogan “Next is now” was translated into Arabic as “سابق عصره”, meaning “Ahead of this time”.

The core message of the slogan is that the Samsung S6 smartphone uses advanced technology not yet utilized by anyone, as it is the technology of the future.

The Arabic transcreation not only preserves the core message of the original English version but also uses a common Arabic phrase with the same meaning. By using such a popular phrase, the Arabic transcreation appears as if it were specifically written for that language market.

La La Land

When translating the movie title “La La Land” into Chinese, the translator used creative translation to convey meaning and create similarity to the original title. The transcreation “爱乐之城” (Ài Lè Zhī Chéng) roughly means “Music-Loving City

Compared to the original name, this transcreation chooses words and sentence structures aligned to the Chinese language and culture, capturing the dreamy, romantic, and similar vibes but not entirely matching the original title.

While the original title “La La Land” focuses on expressing the passion, dreams, and love for the city of Los Angeles, the transcreation “爱乐之城” (Ài Lè Zhī Chéng) emphasizes love and passion for music in a city full of challenges await.

Examples of controversial transcreation

The following examples of transcreation illustrate that creative translation can cause controversy due to changes in meaning, cultural offense, or deviations from the original context. However, this also creates an opportunity for discussion and reflection on the importance of creativity in translation and the role of language in communication.


Transcreation's Controversial Example - Thao & Co.

One of the failed transcreation examples is the Electrolux slogan. Electrolux’s advertising campaign in the United States during the 1960s, there was a noteworthy mishap. The Swedish version, “Inget suger som Electrolux” was translated into English as “Nothing sucks like Electrolux.”

The word “suck” in the slogan was intended to emphasize the superior suction power of Electrolux vacuum cleaners. However, in everyday English communication, the word “suck” often has a negative connotation, indicating something terrible, disappointing, or of poor quality.

Therefore, this translation inadvertently carried the meaning of “Nothing is as bad as Electrolux” or “Electrolux is really bad” in the everyday language of the local people.


When KFC first entered the Chinese market, their classic slogan “Finger-lickin’ good” encountered an issue when transformed into “Eat your fingers off,” causing uproar and cultural offense in this populous nation.

The careless change in wording created a harmful misunderstanding, especially in a country with a unique culinary culture where eating with hands is discouraged. This underscores the importance of respecting and understanding the local culture when developing advertising strategies and using language appropriately in the international business environment.

Mind Quiz

Opting for the phrase “super spastic” in Mind Quiz’s English version sparked controversy and outrage in the disability community in the UK, leading Ubisoft to recall the product due to the negative backlash from the gaming community there. However, in the original Japanese version, this phrase did not exist, suggesting it was an invention by the translator.

This incident raises concern about the importance of quality control in game localization when introducing a video game to a new market. Although using the same language, the preferences and language usage habits of consumers in each region or country differ. Therefore, the localization process needs to consider these differences and flexibly adjust to limit risks and provide the best experience for users everywhere.

Valuable lessons from these examples of transcreation

One of the crucial lessons is the need to understand the culture and language of the target customers. When transcreating, it’s not just about translating words but also conveying values and messages properly to avoid misunderstandings and ensure a strong impact on customers.

Another factor is the quality control of localization. This process ensures the accuracy and suitability of the translation, detecting and correcting errors, and refining content to meet the requirements of the target customer.

The transcreation process needs to grasp the cultural and taste differences of each region, helping adjust the translation to avoid negative reactions and best meet the needs and preferences of the target customers. Flexibility and adaptation are essential for success, but sometimes content adjustments are necessary to ensure appropriateness and effectiveness in the language and culture of the target audience.

Finally, market research is crucial before implementing creative translation. Feedback from target customers helps ensure that the message does not cause confusion or negative reactions.

To imply proficient transcreation methods that meet your needs, learn more about different types of transcreation.

Where to find professional creative translation services?

Thao & Co. is a professional translation company with an engaging style of creative translation. We go beyond merely translating words but also breathe new life into your messages, creating strong connections and profound impacts on clients.

We believe that emotions are conveyed through each word and phrase, not just language. Therefore, we place a very high emphasis on accuracy and cultural appropriateness to ensure that the original message is delicately and powerfully conveyed.

Our team of talented and seasoned linguists is not only professional translators but also wordsmiths. They are committed to ensuring that each transcreation not only meets industry requirements but also provides unique experiences for clients. 

Professional Translation Services - Get a Free Quote

Thao & Co. is a distinctive transcreation agency with diverse and high-quality services. We offer Consumer Language ResearchⒸ services to help our clients understand the consumer language better, hence optimizing advertising campaigns, and providing a better experience. The experienced team at Thao & Co. is committed to delivering each client a customized solution and real value.

We understand that each market and consumer has unique peculiarities. Therefore, we don’t stop at translating from one language to another but also strive to understand cultural and preference differences which allows us to fine-tune the transcreations to best meet the needs and interests of the target customers.

At Thao & Co., we consider transcreation as an art of leveraging creativity and breakthrough thinking to deliver unique, emotional, and deeply impactful translations. We believe that creative translation can create connections and a powerful impact on people.

At Thao & Co., you can rely on us to transcreate your message creatively, accurately, and effectively. We commit to providing you with a unique and memorable translation experience that exceeds your expectations.

Contact us now for a consultation and get a detailed quote for creative translation services.

Nguồn: Thao & Company
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