The French disconnection
Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Transcreation needs a long term commitment to both France and its media culture and to the British way of life and language. Hiring a young gun is attractive; until they very quickly run out of ammunition. Experience is what you need first, not how fresh faced she/he looks.
You need a French copywriter so before hiring one ask yourself
when in London:
does she/he listen to la matinale de France Inter?
(highest audience for a early morning radio show)
does she/he watch BFM TV?
(most watched TV channel by young people)
does she/he read Ouest-France?
(first newspaper readership)
does she/he read Stratégies?
(main ad trade magazine)
when in Paris:
does she/he goes to the FNAC and buy
(multimedia department store chain)
the latest French literary sensation?
(from Michel Houellebecq to Virginie Despentes)
the latest French rap/pop CD?
(from MC Solar to Charlotte Gainsbourg)
go to see the latest French films at the cinema?
(UGC Les Halles has 37 screens, the largest multiplex in Europe)
is she/he cheap, young, and has just landed from France (because actually, she/he has fallen out of love with her/his native country)?
It’s very easy to come to London just because you’ve fallen in love with Shoreditch and fallen out of love with France because you find it stuffy, bourgeois and provincial. True, London can be seen as way ahead on the creative front, from its youth culture, lifestyle and advertising.
But the job of a transcreator is to keep abreast with what’s going on in their own country, keep passionate about it, from culture to politics, from advertising to media. Sad but true I can always tell when an ad has been transcreated because it is bad, bland and stripped of all creativity. And when the writing is good, the punctuation always lets it down (yes, there is a space between a word and an exclamation mark). This is also part of the transcreator’s job to look at those details and they usually don’t bother.
So, don’t think that a young French transcreator is your best bet for the job. Au contraire ! They may just be here to forget all about France and ready to embrace that hipster culture and its language a little too close. There is a serious debate in France about the “pernicious” infiltration of globish into French culture and language and the French are rebelling against it (you know the French…). So, don’t let your brand or client be a potential victim of the backlash and invest in a French copywriter who will advise you against those pitfalls instead of trying to save money. It may cost you far dearer in reality.