Merry Global Christmas, or 13 Days that Messed Up a Campaign

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!It’s Christmas eve today in many countries around the world. Companies of all sorts and sizes use this opportunity globally to boost their end-of-year revenues. Our imaginary friends from Healthsoft Inc. (Marta, Lisa, and Erin) have also been working on a multilingual Christmas-themed campaign. However, it didn’t really work out as they expected. Was quality to blame for low performance, or was it something else? Read on to learn all about it.

It’s early November. Marta, Senior Regional Marketing Manager for German-speaking countries (DACH) at Healthsoft, is both excited and a bit stressed out – and not because of the weather. Her team has shown outstanding performance in the last quarter, and because of this, she’s just been entrusted by her Global VP of Marketing to run their Christmas promo campaign. However, this time, it’s not only for her own geography but also for 19 other countries across all of Europe and Asia. In many of them, Healthsoft doesn’t have any local marketing staff at all. In other words, Marta’s now responsible for Christmas pretty much everywhere Healthsoft is selling their products (except Americas). And she’d better be ready to bring in the numbers once December is over…

First thing Marta does is call Erin, Healthsoft’s Localization Director. Marta explains to Erin that she will need support – lots of support. Despite her seniority, Marta has never before run projects on such a global scale, and she figured out Erin and her in-house Localization team must be doing it all the time. Luckily, Erin is more than willing to help, and promises to assign her best Localization Project Manager, Peter, to this project, as well as oversee it personally – despite being busy with several high-profile product localization projects that will be ready to launch in Q1 next year, as well as ramping up the Machine Translation program for Healthsoft’s Customer Service content.

Next is Peter’s turn. He is certain that in order to succeed, he will need to have their Language Services Partner, TransMe, fully aligned with the goals and process for this global campaign. In a regular situation, he would have just approached their account manager at TransMe. But now, the schedule is tight and end-of-year marketing KPIs are at stake. Peter’s been working with Lisa, TransMe’s Quality Manager, before, and thinks he might be able to help. He gives Lisa a call, and together they are able to agree on the requirements and draft out a quality assurance process for this project. Lisa takes up the job to document all of this and discuss/approve with TransMe’s production team.

The next morning, the final project plan sits in the mailbox with Peter, Erin, and Marta. TransMe is proposing a transcreation approach for all countries and languages, including English for UK/Ireland, South Africa, India, and Australia/New Zealand. The US HQ’s original Christmas campaign idea, which is based around the images of hospital staff and outpatients playing baseball among piles of snow, is very unlikely to work without adaptation. Even though the localization investment is higher than usual, Marta approves the quote without hesitation. She badly needs this global Christmas content to be as effective is possible.

Fast forward 3 weeks to late November. After intense teamwork, the global campaign for 22 countries is ready in 14 languages. All the quality assurance steps have been passed, all minor issues were rectified, and Marta’s ready to launch. The campaign is supposed to be running for the whole of Advent up to the Christmas Day, so there are 25 different sets of touches – one for each day. Happy to have the campaign finally ready, Marta flips the switch on Dec 1st.

Carefully prepared Christmas-themed multilingual content starts trickling down the designated distribution channels for all countries. Marta monitors conversion rates every day, and things are looking good so far. On Dec 13, Friday, a couple of seemingly campaign-related comments from social networks in Russia and Egypt (both important consumer markets for Healthsoft) do reach her. However, nobody on her team speaks those languages, and Marta figures the comments are safe to ignore…

On Dec 28, Marta is chatting to her marketing counterpart in Poland, Agnieszka, about how the campaign went for them. Agnieszka is happy: the results for her market were great, and she’s already planning for the holidays, meeting some old friends coming over from Ukraine to visit her in Warsaw. She mentions that her friends will only be around for a week because they must be home before Christmas time on Jan 7th… Christmas, in January?!

Marta suddenly realizes that they’ve screwed up with Orthodox Christmas, big time. Her Christmas campaign is already over, and all the nicely transcreated and approved content has been pushed out. But there are still 9 days to go until Christmas in Ethiopia, Russia, Egypt, and a bunch of other countries on her list! There’s no way she can recover from this quickly, and no way she’ll now get to the required numbers in these countries (which have already been less than stellar during the past quarter). “Oh god, how am I going to explain this to my VP?”

Luckily for her, the global company all-hands meeting comes on January 5th. Healthsoft’s President announces that the VP of Sales for EMEA & APAC has stepped down over the New Year, and they are now looking for a replacement. In the meanwhile, Healthsoft will be concentrating all Sales & Marketing efforts and key personnel on the Americas region for Q1. It means that Marta’s Global VP is now going to be too busy to dig into what happened to her campaign. Phew! That’s a true miracle for her. Now she can analyze in detail what happened, find the root cause, and make sure she will never ever repeat such a mistake again…


Merry Global Christmas and a Happy Multilingual New Year to all our readers! We wish for your content to be always of the optimal quality, to achieve all your business KPIs, and to bring the best possible Return on Investment. May your team’s cross-cultural expertise and your trusted partners guide you on a path to avoid costly blunders such as the one faced by Marta, Erin, Lisa despite their best intentions!

Published by

Kirill Soloviev

Co-Founder & Head of Product at ContentQuo