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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Laz

Cheap and unqualified transcreation

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

Radio gaga

I recently experienced a couple of situations where bad decisions were made by clients regarding their handling of transcreation following my input. You know the “too many cooks” classic cases.

I was hired to work on a big digital account. I was asked to work out creative routes, create concepts, write scripts, liaise with the whole team at the agency and with the client via Skype sessions. My contribution was based upon my knowledge of the economical and political situation in France and my extensive experience as a conceptual copywriter.

Our working relationship at the agency was excellent and the campaign tested well. The clients were very pleased. I was penciled to work on the next phase.

A few days before the agreed date I contacted the agency who told me they had forgotten to let me know they had made “a creative hire on the French front” and didn’t require my services after all.

I didn’t feel particularly pleased by their cavalier attitude and felt pretty let down and somewhat confused by the sudden move. Until the “creative hire” unwittingly revealed herself to me. She was younger and cheaper.

The campaign is now being broadcast on the French national radio. And the result is pretty awkward, badly directed with wooden performances by “real people”. Who was in the studio with the London team? I know that none of them could speak French so who’s responsibility is it? I am sad that all my hard work has ended in this mediocre campaign. I wince every time I hear it.

Was it worth it? I have directed dozens of actors in studio. You have to record several takes and do some rewriting on site. Directing non-actors is even harder.

Clients have a tendency to think that as long as they have someone French there it will be alright. Changing creatives in the middle of a creating a campaign is not a good move. It’s not because you don’t understand the language that you can let go of excellence.

However that’s what happened in this case. With a London agency, an American client and a single French person of little experience, the end result could hardly have gone any other way. Unless you don’t get on with someone, don’t change a winning team, it’s just not worth it.

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