Translation at the World Cup

The 2018 World Cup Russia is in full swing — and billions of people worldwide are tuning in to cheer on their favorite teams.

While language is something that usually divides people, the World Cup is an event that undoubtedly brings the world together. And for global brands in particular, the World Cup presents a huge opportunity to engage new and existing consumers.

In this blog post, we explore the global nature of the major sporting event as well as how companies are leveraging consumer interest to promote their products and services overseas.

A truly global event

The official languages of FIFA are English, French, German and Spanish. However, these by no means account for all the languages spoken by participants, attendees and viewers. There are 32 national teams participating with a total 18 official languages between them. According to FIFA, 3.2 billion people watched the 2014 World Cup Brazil, representing nearly 200 countries and 180 different languages. This year, research company GlobalWebIndex is forecasting total viewership of 3.4 billion (half the total world population!) for the entire tournament.

Translation at the World Cup

Each FIFA member country is responsible for translation into their country’s own language – which speaks to an already huge market for translation services during the World Cup.

FIFA itself translates over three million words per language per year, as reported by Caitlin Stephens, Deputy Head of Language Services. It’s easy to see why there’s such a big need for languages and translation services. Being able to understand and also communicate is a highly valued resource, especially for such a diverse crowd.

This year, Australia-based SBS Radio announced it will broadcast all 64 matches in up to three languages simultaneously (English and in the languages of the competing teams). With the aim of engaging more listeners, SBS Radio is providing the most multilingual coverage of the World Cup, broadcasting in at least 13 languages including Arabic, Korean, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.

How other brands score with global marketing

Smart brands, retailers and service providers also take advantage of consumer interest in The World Cup to engage potential and existing consumers worldwide.

During the last World Cup in 2014, Sony launched a global social network dedicated to the World Cup entitled “One Stadium Live”. This platform enabled fans to connect with other fans across the world, and share the sentiment of World Cup spirit. They focused on six languages of the 32 nations taking part to bring all the conversations concerning those playing into one space.

By launching country-specific multilingual campaigns, Listerine and its agency MRY found localization success for content geared toward Spanish-speaking markets. Testing against 50 different micro-segments, they found that Spanish content performed 20 percent better than other languages, and the most engaging content was created specifically for Costa Rica and Argentina. Market segmentation helped determine exactly which types of messaging resonated with specific markets.

Johnson & Johnson also found success by setting up a social newsroom prior to the tournament that focused on real-time posts translated into Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese and Arabic.

These companies’ successes show that by keeping a close eye on consumer trends and developing the right localization approach, you can score big with multilingual marketing.

Ready to flex your global marketing muscles like FIFA?

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Main image by via Wikimedia Commons under CC

Alex Nguyen

The author

Alex Nguyen

Alex crafts and coordinates content for Gengo’s marketing team. Based in San Francisco after a brief stint in Tokyo, she loves all things culture and design. When not at Gengo, she’s likely brushing up on her Japanese, letting loose at indie electronic shows or trying out new ice cream spots in the city.

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