A translation into the same language: ‘Get a Mac’ ads hit the UK

A dodgy phrasebook indeed.
One of the many cliched curses of being in a part of the Anglophonic world that is not the USA is that marketers who are lazy or short of cash just take content from the biggest economy on Earth and put it over here with no adapation other than a dodgy overub if you’re lucky. Its an awkward solution.

A campaign Stateside that has entered the imagination is Apple’s character based Get a Mac (by TBWA). Justin Long and John Hodgman have a visible chemistry and the executions are simple and memorable but pull the trick of being funny/sweet while still drumming in negative messages about the competition. While the Mac is and will always be a minority platform in computing, these ads and Apple’s shift to off the shelf Intel tech seems to be giving it a boost towards something more than 3% market share.

In their original form the ads would have bombed in the UK. The ‘Mac’ character would have seemed an annoyingly smug perpetual student, PC some kind of would be sex criminal and the dialogue is heavily tilted toward a bland middle class American vernacular. A Japanese version of the campaign appeared a while back but my monoglotness prevents analysis.

Not only has “Get a Mac” debuted on these shores but it has been done with rare verve. Many in the office noticed the print teasers and commented on the very inspired casting of comedians Mitchell and Webb (stars of Peep Show). Almost sufficient changes to the dialogue have been made (the word “humdinger” seems out of place in “Virus” but the surrealism of the UK-only “Tentacle” compensates). The archetypes of fun, aspirational Everyman versus uptight, unhip and slightly worrying Suit remain intact. It is a fascinating exercise in the hardest kind of cross-cultural translation of all. Too early to tell if it will fly here (and smugness is still a risk) but respect to the planners involved.


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