localisation strategies from Netflix

The Netflix Guide to World Domination: 5 Localisation Strategies to Steal 

Not content with destroying legacy movie rental services like Blockbuster and convincing millions of people to stop paying for cable TV in the United States, in recent years  Netflix has made international expansion the key to its continued success.  The company operates in over 190 countries, and in 2018 international streaming produced more revenue for the company than domestic streaming. Meanwhile, the US no longer boasts the most extensive library of Netflix titles. That honour now belongs to Japan.

What’s the secret to Netflix’s global appeal, and what can other businesses learn from it? Here are five localisation strategies that have helped Netflix achieve world domination.

Localisation strategies from Netflix:  Start with baby steps.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Netflix’s global empire. As the Harvard Business Review observes, Netflix’s localisation efforts started small, with its 2010 expansion to Canada. By 2015, Netflix was operating in 50 countries. This slow start gave the company a chance to perfect its localisation procedures. By 2018, just three years later, Netflix had expanded to 190 countries.

Localisation strategies from Netflix:  Be authentically local.

If you want your international expansion plans to succeed, in most cases it helps if your potential customers feel like you understand them, their needs and their cultural values. (The exception to this rule would be if foreignness is part of the appeal of your product).

Netflix understands this. That’s why they offer a mix of international content translated into local languages and local content created specifically for specific markets.

For example,  in a keynote address at Content London, Erik Barmack, vice-president of international originals at Netflix said:

“In terms of programming strategy, where we are coming from is that a show has to feel true and authentic to the country it originates from. If we do a show in India it has to feel loved in that market first for it to have any strategic value for us. Sacred Games [the Hindi-language thriller that debuted on the platform in July] feels sincere and real and there’s something different our consumers are experiencing.”

How does this apply if you’re not in the streaming business? Odds are you’re using some creative content to sell your product. So, consult with local marketers. Use native-language language copywriters to transcreate marketing and advertising when necessary.    Read more

Medical Translation Guide for Pharmaceutical and Life Science Organisations

This helpful guide is designed for anyone involved in producing documentation or communications in the medical device, pharmaceutical or life sciences sectors.

Specifically, this guide focuses on:

• Medical translation regulations
• Medical device translation regulations
• Pharmaceutical translation regulations
• Patient privacy and security
• The medical translation process
• Medical translation gone wrong

Download your copy here

foreign language music

How Foreign Language Music Is Taking Over the English-Speaking World

In the US and the UK, English has long dominated the pop music charts. Even artists who didn’t speak English as a first language knew they had to sing in the English to attain popularity in these English-speaking countries. There have been exceptions, of course. But they were mostly singular occurrences, often with a bit of a novelty factor.

Over the last year, that’s changed. As the BBC observes, worldwide politics may have become more separatist. However, in the world of music, it’s a different story. Since the success of 2017’s Despacito, songs in languages other than English keep finding their way to the top of the charts.

How Foreign Language Music Took Over the Charts

You could say it started in 2017, with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s hit Despacito,  which stayed on top of the US Billboard 100 for 16 weeks, won multiple Grammy awards, and is the most-viewed YouTube video of all time.

But it’s not just Spanish songs.  And it’s not just in the United States (which has historically been somewhat more accepting of foreign language hits).  K-Pop, too, has seen a massive surge in popularity, with its impossibly well-groomed boy and girl bands. Today’s version of New Kids on the Block (or Fifth Harmony or One Direction for those you who aren’t, like, really old)  is probably Korean boy band BTS. They sing in Korean, not in English. However, that didn’t stop them from landing number one albums and selling out venues in both the US and the UK.

And of course, before the flood of multilingual pop hits, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” peaked at number two in the US and hit number one in the UK in 2012. Read more

movie title translations

29 More Hilarious Movie Title Translations

Translating movie titles is a tricky business, and sometimes the original title gets lost in translation. So, let’s play a game. Here are 29 more hilarious movie title translations. Can you guess the original English title? The answers are below the fold!

  1. Six Naked Pigs
  2.  If You Leave Me, I Delete You
  3.  Warm Shots
  4. Son of  Devil
  5. King Devil of Children
  6. A Supertough Kangaroo
  7. Floppy Coppers Don’t Bite
  8. Straight in the Balls
  9. Mysterious Murder in Snowy Cream
  10. Urban Neurotic
  11. Big Liar
  12. The Spy Who Behaved Very Nicely Around Me, or Spy On Secret Missionary Position
  13. American Virgin Man 
  14. Just Send Him To University Unqualified 
  15. Santa is a Pervert 
  16. Meetings and Failures in Meetings
  17. Please, Do Not Touch The Old Women
  18. A Twin Seldom Comes Alone
  19.  This Dead Person is Very Alive
  20.  Because She’s Ugly 
  21.  Jack’s Weird World
  22. The Rebel Novice Nun 
  23. Spinning Sex
  24. Trump Card Big Liar
  25.  Seabed General Mobilization
  26. New York Style Happy Therapy
  27. I Believe A Horse Is Kicking Me
  28.  The Knights of the Coconut
  29. Vaiana – The Paradise Has A Snag

Read more

10 Hilarious Christmas Translation Fails

Christmas has come and gone. This year, we’re taking a look back and reviewing the funniest Christmas-themed translation fails for your amusement. Sit back, pour yourself a cup of tea, and check out these hilarious Christmas translation errors.

Throll the Ancient Yuletide Carol










It’s the most wonderfully throlling time of the year.
(Via Engrish.com)

What happened to Mrs. Claus?

I was under the impression Santa Claus already HAD a wife?

(Via Engrish.com)

All’s fair between consenting adults . . .



But for most people, celebrating Christmas with “the family, the lover and the friend” sounds like it could get awkward rather quickly.

Via Engrish.com

Have an Erotic Christmas!

“Eros” and “Christmas” . . . Two words that don’t go together unless you’re marketing adult products.  And is it just me, or does that reindeer have murder in its eyes?

Via Engrish.com. 

The Santa Chicken?

We’ve all heard of Santa Claus, but what about the Santa Chicken?  Does he leave buckets of fried chicken in your stocking?

As hilarious as this billboard is, it’s actually a testament to the international marketing genius of Kentucky Fried Chicken. They got off to a rough start in China, where their famous slogan “Finger-licking good” was mistranslated as “Eat Your Fingers Off.” However, they’re now the most popular fast food chain in China.

Meanwhile, KFC fried chicken has become a traditional Christmas dinner in Japan. Around 3.6 million Japanese families celebrate the holiday with buckets of extra crispy chicken marinated in the Colonel’s secret blend of herbs and spices. The tradition was started by KFC Japan’s first CEO in 1974, who marketed a family-sized fried chicken meal as “Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii: Kentucky for Christmas.”  Nobody in Kentucky actually eats fried chicken for Christmas, mind you, but it caught on in Japan.  And judging by the billboard, it’s spread to South Korea as well.

Via Engrish.com. 

Close, but no cigar. . .

Here comes Santa Close, Here comes Santa Close . . . Wait, that’s not quite right, is it?

Via Engrish.com 

Dying is hard, translation is harder.

Is Die Hard your favourite Christmas franchise? Check out these hilarious Die Hard translations:

  • Die Hard: With a Vengeance was translated as Die Hard: Mega Hard in Denmark.
  • In one of the foreign versions of Die Hard 2, the line “You’ll get the pink slip for Christmas” is translated as “you’ll get red underpants in Santa Claus’ stocking.” The translator thought “pink slip” referred to women’s undergarments. Actually, it’s an Americanism for losing one’s job.

Some things are better left unsaid.

In 1991, the Swedish company Locum sent out a Christmas card to their customers. In the card, they debuted a new logo: the company name, in lower case letters, with a heart replacing the “o.”

For English speaking customers, the result was rather unfortunate:

I’m sure you see the problem here.

Ham for Hanukkah?

Holiday translation fails aren’t limited to Christmas. Retail stores courting Jewish customers in the United States sometimes make facepalm-worthy blunders.

For example, in 2007, a grocery store in Greenwich Village, New York, became internet-famous when it advertised its ham as “Delicious for Chanukah.”

We shouldn’t need to spell this out, but pork in all of its many forms is a no-no for observant Jews.

Hanukkah, Hannibal Lecter-style

In 2015, fashion retailer Lord and Taylor published a Hanukkah greeting in the New York Times. Unfortunately, something got lost in translation, and the result was quite ghoulish. As the Times of Israel reports:

The message, in Hebrew, was supposed to read “Happy Hanukkah holiday,” but by consistently printing the letter ת or tav instead of the letter ח or het, the text instead translated roughly as “the tag of her earlobe that died.”

Not sure how this made it past the proofreader, or if a last-minute change in font was the culprit. Either way, it’s not the impression you want to leave in a major newspaper, is it?

Was the Virgin Birth the original Christmas translation fail?

Some translators argue that the idea of the Virgin Birth is actually a translation fail. For example, according to Katharina Reiss,  a German linguist and translation scholar:

The Virgin Birth and Virgin Mary are, pardon the pun, pregnant with social symbolic significance in most, if not all, parts of the world . . . And yet their birth is due to a relatively simple mistake in translation. The Old Testament talks about almah ‘young woman,’ not bethulah ‘virgin.’ However, the scholars in the 3rd century BC translated the Hebrew almah as parthenos in Greek. Thus the ‘young woman’ in Hebrew metamorphosed into a ‘virgin’ in Greek—and she has remained a virgin ever since in translations across the world. The notion of ‘virgin birth’ was born, thanks to a mistranslation.

Don’t want to get coal in your stocking (or alienate your customers during a busy shopping season?) Make sure your translations are correct and culturally appropriate by partnering with a reputable translation agency like K International.

We offer translation, transcreation and consulting services so you can be sure your holiday marketing hits all the right notes everywhere you do business, in more than 250 languages. For more information, take a look at our language services and feel free to contact us.

For everyone who celebrated, we hope you had a Merry Christmas! And if you see any other Christmas translation fails, feel free to share them in the comments.

5 Winter Celebrations to Enjoy with Your Customers and Colleagues

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder, and all around the world, it’s human nature to brighten up the winter season by celebrating with friends and family.

Your colleagues and customers alike will celebrate in different ways depending on their religion, culture and where they (or their families) are from. With that in mind, here is a quick guide to celebrating the winter holidays with colleagues, customers and friends from around the world.


When to celebrate: 25 December, but some Orthodox churches celebrate it on 7 January.

Everyone knows Christmas, but when it comes to how other cultures celebrate, you might know less than you think.

Here’s a cheat sheet of Christmas greetings and fun facts from 5 different countries.


What to say

  • Happy Christmas: “Nollaig shona dhuit” if you’re talking to one person or “Nollaig shona daoibh” if you’re addressing a group.
  • Season’s Greetings: Beannachtaí an tSéasúir

Fun fact: A candle in the window has long been a traditional Irish way to advertise hospitality to lonely travellers who might happen to pass by on Christmas Eve. However, in modern times it’s come by a different meaning: a welcoming signal to Irish emigrants, lighting their way back home.


What to say

  • Merry Christmas: Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia
  • Season’s Greetings: Wesołych Świąt

Fun fact: Polish families share a “Christmas wafer” called opłatek before Christmas dinner. As they pass the wafer around the table, everyone forgives each other for the past year’s conflicts.


What to say

Merry Christmas: Boldog karácsonyt
Season’s Greetings: Kellemes ünnepeket kívánunk

Fun fact: Lucky Hungarian children get presents twice: once on 6 December for Saint Nicholas’s Day, and then another round from Baby Jesus on Christmas Day itself.

The Czech Republic

What to say

  • Merry Christmas: Veselé Vánoce!
  • Happy Holidays: Hezké svátky!

Fun facts: Fresh carp is the traditional Christmas dinner in the Czech Republic. The fresher, the better- some families still buy them alive and keep them in the bathtub until it’s time for the oven. Other families purchase a live fish and then release it into the river as an act of Christmas mercy.


What to Say

Merry Christmas: Veselé Vianoce

Fun fact: Slovakians take their Christmas cookies seriously- it’s traditional to bake more than ten different types. Read more

Translation Fails in Animation: 5 Cartoons that Got Lost in Translation 

Around the world, kids (and kids at heart) have a soft spot for cartoons. However, just because animation is usually aimed at children, that doesn’t mean translating it is child’s play. Translation fails in animation can be caused by carelessness or sheer cultural differences.  In some cases, censorship or overly aggressive localization can also leave fans confused or offended.  Here are five cartoon shows that lost something in translation.

Leo the Lion

The New York Times’ Brian Feldman dubbed this feature-length cartoon “Netflix’s Worst Movie.” Now, we’re certainly not blaming the localisation team completely. After all, even the best translator can’t spin straw into gold.  They have to work with the material they’re given.  From the very first scene in Leo the Lion, it’s abundantly clear that you’re not watching fine Italian cinema.

That said, the translation aspect is a mess, too. As Feldman observes, ” the subtitles for the film do not line up at all with what happens in the film. Broadly, the arcs are similar but character names, terminology and jokes are completely different.”

This movie is so bad that there’s a Tumblr devoted to cataloguing its many eccentricities. One Tumblr user observed that not only are the subtitles a completely different script from the dubbed dialogue but the subtitled dialogue also “matches up better with the lips than the current audio.”

Feldman’s theory is that the “subtitles appear to be a more literal translation of the film, its spoken audio track a localisation.”

Our theory: whoever was in charge of localisation threw their hands up in the air and backed away rather than spending time making the subtitles match the dialogue, or the dialogue correspond to the characters’ lip movements.

So, the next time your little darling tells you to put on “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” for the umpteenth time, remember that it could be worse. Much worse. Read more

How We Support You When Things Go Wrong

Everyone loves to laugh at translation fails, but it’s not quite as funny when your business is on the receiving end of the mockery. It’s even less funny when your products are stuck at a border due to translation errors in labelling and documentation, or when poor translation exposes your organisation to liability issues.

To survive and thrive in today’s connected global economy, businesses have to be willing to overcome language barriers. But what happens when your material gets lost in translation? The difference between a disaster and a bump in the road often comes down to a quick and effective response. At K International, we’ve got your back. Here’s how we can support you when something goes wrong.

We provide correct translations and relevant advice.

Obviously, the first step in responding to a translation error or a cross-cultural marketing fail is to correct the mistake.  At K International, we’ll assemble a team of professional linguists, project managers and other experts in relevant fields like compliance and copywriting. Whether the error in question is as simple as having the wrong ingredient listed or as complicated as an advertisement that isn’t delivering the desired message, we’ll get it sorted.

We help you deploy the corrected content quickly.

The next step is to deploy the corrected content. This step will take different forms depending on your industry and the nature of your error. It may be as easy as updating your website. It could be as labour-intensive as re-shooting a video. Or, it could be a logistical nightmare like trying to figure out how to re-label entire shipments of goods destined for foreign markets. Regardless, time is of the essence. Fortunately, our team includes specialists in a wide range of disciplines, from graphic design and desktop publishing to retail compliance. That means we can usually handle all aspects of your project in-house, for greater efficiency and a speedy resolution. Read more

retail compliance

The A to Z of Retail Compliance: A Checklist 

Compliance is one of the most intimidating parts of international retail.  Around the world, retailers are coming under increased regulatory pressure from both governments and consumers. The more regions your business operates in,  the more difficult it is to comply with all of the different regulations. That’s especially true if your business involves potentially hazardous products like food, electronics or products intended for children.

The exact steps to retail compliance will vary depending on what your organisation sells and where you’re selling it.  That said, this checklist provides a generalised set of best practices that can help your retail organisation stay in compliance wherever you do business.

retail compliance checklist

Read more

How to Say Hello in 15 Languages

Did you know that the 21st of November is World Hello Day? To celebrate, learn how to say hello in 15 languages today!

Participating in World Hello Day is as easy as saying “Hello” to ten people. But what if they don’t speak your language? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to say “Hello” in 15 different languages, along with some etiquette tips for greeting people from different cultures.

How to Say “Hello” in 15 Languages

How to Say Hello in French

Bonjour (formal)
Salut (informal)

Use “salut” only for close friends and family. For everyone else, use “bonjour.” When meeting a stranger, it’s polite to shake hands . . . quickly, and with a light grip.

In other words, not like this:


Friends, family, and acquaintances may greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. However, the French are not huggers.

How to Say Hello in Spanish

Hola (formal)
Buenos días (Good morning, with morning being anytime before lunch)
Buenas tardes (Good afternoon)
Buenas noches (Good evening)
¿Qué tal? (Informal-  What’s going on?)

In most Spanish-speaking cultures, it’s polite to shake hands with strangers and acquaintances you don’t know well. Between people who know each other, air-kissing is a common way for women to greet each other and for men to greet women.  Men often hug.

How To Say Hello in Russian

Zdravstvuyte (Formal)
Privet (Informal)

When greeting strangers or acquaintances,  shaking hands is the preferred greeting.  Russians generally go for firm handshakes. Don’t shake hands over the threshhold of a door, as this is considered bad luck.

Need some help with pronunciation? Here you go: Read more