Word Play

June 24, 2008

Cultural Differences

Filed under: "cultural differences" — Hagit @ 5:03 am

I recently translated a press release about a new cellular phone, and one of its selling lines surprised me as it was totally irrelevant to the Israeli, Hebrew speaking audience. It said the device is “so small you’ll want to carry it everywhere”, and went on to explain that when going out in the evening, your space is limited, but this device is so small, you’ll want to carry it. What I found as strange was the fact that in Israel no one would ever consider leaving their mobile at home, space or no space. I didn’t notice anything different in my travels, so that makes me wonder. Is it indeed different? do people in the US/ Europe leave their phone at home when going out in the evening?



  1. Hi Hagit, I think the copywriter missed the whole point of having a _mobile_ phone…:-) Did you tell your client? Ciao, Isabella

    Comment by Isabella — June 24, 2008 @ 9:06 am | Reply

  2. Hi Hagit,
    I think the sales pitch is directed at women who carry handbags (a gender issue) – for evening wear, accessory handbags tend to be smaller than for day use, and so space is at a premium. “Here’s a phone that takes up almost no space, and so can be taken out with you in your evening bag as well…”
    Alternatively, it’s small enough to clip onto a belt or such, and not ruin the line of the clothes.
    Of course, there’s a more subtle message there too. How could you ever consider not being available by phone, even if you are going out to enjoy yourself – I think that society (and this is different even from 10 years ago) is becoming enslaved to the notion that one should be available at all times. Hence the need to remind people to turn off their phones at the beginning of meetings, religious services, etc. (and how many people still don’t turn the phone off – after all, *I’m* important, people want to contact me, etc.).

    Comment by Perry Zamek — July 1, 2008 @ 4:30 pm | Reply

  3. Perry has a good point. Without knowing the whole English text and judging from what you identified as the company’s key sales argument, size in regards to evening handbags would be their point indeed. Same for pockets, which is where guys usually love to store their cellphone when they’re out for entertainment.
    I can tell you that here in Germany, cellphones clipped onto a belt have been considered ridiculous since a long time, and I know it’s quite the opposite in the US and in Israel. We also never really had those neck straps for cellphones here, and I think cellphone pouches make good protectors from damage, but no one really wears them around the neck or straps them outside their totes (theft!).
    Evening handbags (clutches, which are a big hit in the USA, for example) can be very small, but remember that even for everyday use, compact clutches and tiny club bags have become a trend.

    Opposite to here, though, I know that women’s wallets in the USA and Israel are huge as hell. We here do well with compact ones, mostly because we don’t have personal cheques anymore and therefore don’t need a wallet-checkbook combo. I know, however, how wallets tend to take up quite some space in ladies’ bags. 😉

    About leaving the cellphone at home when going out, I think Israel has a different attitude to cellphones throughout all generations. For once because a cellphone can be a lifesaver more than we’d expect it in e.g. central Europe or the USA. For another, Israelis really stick to their cellphones, almost obsessively so. I have never heard about people owning two or even three of them as much as I heard it in Israel.

    Here, it is considered impolite to talk on the cellphone at a restaurant. At public places of entertainment such as the theatre, the opera and the cinema, we turn off our cellphones. At the restaurant etc. we go outside to answer our cellphones (if we haven’t switched it off or left it at home or in the car), and we excuse ourselves (ideally).

    Well, long rant, and maybe I miss the point completely. *shrugs* But in any way, if this episode shows one thing, then how important it is to be in the know about cultural differences when marketing one’s products and writing up marketing texts. This is something a *lot* of companies are running short on.

    Comment by mlle a. — July 9, 2008 @ 8:43 am | Reply

  4. Just a thought, but maybe “taking it everywhere” means “EVERYWHERE”, namely, you’d take it to the shower. It could be that the phrase was to be used as some sort of commercial gimmick (i.e, not as literally)

    Comment by freidenker24 — July 21, 2009 @ 10:11 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: