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13. Spain > Most Common Mistakes

Most Common Mistakes

The biggest mistake we have seen companies make is to target Spain with a single European campaign, using English only and treating Europe as a single country. Remember, there are 27 countries in the European Union alone and Spain is just one of them.

Another common mistake is to group “similar” countries into buckets. For instance, putting Italy, Spain, and Portugal in the same bucket. As you might imagine, companies who do this see less than beneficial results.

Finally, some companies roll out a single website to target Spanish-speaking countries. Yes, it is true Spanish is the native language of 332 million people in the world, as well as the official language of 22 countries. It is also widely spoken in several other nations, including Canada, Morocco, the Philippines, and the United States. Also true: Spanish is the third most-spoken language online after English and Chinese (though fewer than half of those speaking Spanish are in Spain).

“...the Spanish language spoken in Spain is surprisingly different from Latin American Spanish and that from U.S. Hispanic Spanish...”

However, the Spanish language spoken in Spain is surprisingly different from Latin American Spanish and that from U.S. Hispanic Spanish, and so on. Often U.S. companies think it enough to get a person who speaks Mexican Spanish to do their translation. This is a problem because aside from accent, many random words are used differently in each country, and that can lead to all kinds of problems. For example, in Spain, the word “cojer” means to pick up, as in “Please pick up an order at the store.” However, in Mexico, “cojer” has a far less pleasant slang meaning not suitable for repeating in this book. The word to use in Mexico would be “recojer” for picking up an order at the store.

For example, when Mazda came out with its Laputa minivan, the company failed to realize that “puta” is the Spanish word for prostitute. You can imagine the stir this caused when the Laputa minivan was introduced in Spain. Distributors in Chile went so far as to ask Mazda to change the name of the minivan to a less offensive term. Other similar unfortunate vehicle names include the Mitsubishi Pajero and the Nissan Moco; both do not translate very well into Spanish (meaning both have negative or sexual connotations). In Spain, the Pajero is now known as the Montero. The Moco is no longer sold in Spain, though it is sold under different names in other countries.


image Note

It would be suitable to use an educated person from Mexico to translate your campaign aimed at Spaniards as long as you are certain the person understands the nuances between the various versions of Spanish.


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