Volume 16, No. 4
October 2012

  Soledad Sta. Marķa

Front Page


Index 1997-2012

TJ Interactive: Translation Journal Blog

  Translator Profiles
How I Tripled My Translation Business in One Year
by Ilse Wong

  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant and Worker Bee
The Most Prized Possession of All
by Jost Zetzsche

  Translators Around the World
The Booming Localization Industry in the People’s Republic of China
by Chuanmao Tian

  Translators' Health
Using OSHA Guidelines for Ourselves
by Françoise Herrmann, PhD

  Legal Translation
Derecho continental y derecho anglosajón: la terminología y la fraseología propia del ámbito sucesorio
by Esther Vázquez y del Árbol
The Brazilian Supreme Court Comes to the Rescue of Translators!
by Danilo Nogueira and Kelli Semolini

  Literary Translation
La palingénésie de Marco Micone : écriture, traduction et auto-traduction comme remèdes littéraires à l’invisibilité du migrant
by Cecilia Foglia

Cultural Aspects of Translation
Who’s Listening/Reading?
by by Philip Macdonald
Translation of Cultural Items in Dubbed Animated Comedies
by by Paulina Burczynska

Advertising Translation
Advertising in Translation: “Nivea Beauty Is” Campaign Against “Belleza Es, Facetas”
by Soledad Sta. María

Translation Theory
The Illusion of Transparency
by Daniel Valles

Translator Education
A Foray into Student-Centered Learning (SCL): Two SCL Activities Designed to Enhance Translation Pedagogy
by Lorin Card, PhD

  Caught in the Web
Web Surfing for Fun and Profit
by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Translators’ On-Line Resources
by Gabe Bokor
Translators’ Best Websites
by Gabe Bokor

  Translators' Tools
Translators’ Emporium

Call for Papers and Editorial Policies

  Translation Journal

Advertising in Translation:

“Nivea Beauty Is” Campaign Against “Belleza Es, Facetas”

by Soledad Sta. María


This article is a comparison of Nivea Advertising Campaign in English and Spanish. Specifically, it tries to analyze the translation process and examine the differences between source (English) and target (Spanish) versions of Nivea TV ad campaign, both in textual and visual level, with reference to (a) content and content organization, and (b) the linguistic devices constructing a particular type of sender-addressee relationship.


Advertisement, Translation, Television, Source Language, Target Audience

1. Introduction

dvertising is all pervasive in our society, much more than it used to be. It is a powerful force that could shape the attitudes, opinions, and behavior of people. As it has been observed before, people always have this love-hate relationship with advertising. It is such a strong influence that numerous studies have been conducted about it.

A phenomenon that is linked with advertising is globalization, which describes the way humans relate to each other, an increased connectedness of all people from different parts of the world, resulting not only in increasing international trade but, more strikingly, in the cultural exchange that trade generates. This phenomenon influences the way advertising is created and transmitted to its target audience.

To transfer an advertisement from one language (and culture) to another, possible answers would be to translate, adapt, and create.
Due to globalization, an advertisement may require translation, but to do this entails a lot of work. Translation consists of studying the lexicon, grammatical structure, communication situation, and cultural context of the source language text, analyzing it in order to determine its meaning, and then reconstructing this same meaning using the lexicon and grammatical structure which are appropriate in the receptor language and its cultural context (Larson 1998:3).

According to Cook (1994/2001:42), “any analysis of advertisements could show serious problems, especially with television ads because on television pictures move, music plays, and language comes in changing combinations of speech, song, and writing.” This is what this paper intends to accomplish by examining the differences between source (English) and target (Spanish) versions of Nivea's TV ad campaign, both on the textual and visual level, with reference to (a) content and content organization, and (b) the linguistic devices constructing a particular type of sender-addressee relationship (Sidiropoulou 1998). It is assumed that the English version was the source version since it was aired prior to the Spanish version.

2. Methodology

The ads in the study were chosen because they were handy at the time the author was searching the Internet for an advertisement with Spanish and English versions. Upon downloading, the texts of the jingle and the voiceover of the two versions were transcribed while the images from the video were grabbed and converted into still photos.

Following Cook (1994/2001), the analysis of the ads in question was done first as words only (of the jingle, then of the voiceover, and of the texts that appeared as images), and secondly as words in interaction with the music and picture.

3. Analysis of the corpus

The advertising campaign in this study is the first global campaign of the brand image of Nivea that was launched in 2007 and had reached 64 countries. Previously released in United Kingdom, France, Holland, Germany, and the Nordic countries before it was launched in Spain, the campaign portrays beauty as a combination of appearance, well-being, and personality (ArabianBusiness.com 2009). The advertisement campaign seeks to position Nivea with the concept of holistic view of beauty with the intention “to adapt the overall message that works in all categories and countries, and is flexible over time (José Lasó, Nivea Spain Marketing Director).” This paper compared the English version entitled “Nivea Beauty is” and the Spanish version dubbed as “Belleza es, Facetas” (first broadcasted in Spain on January 16, 2008).

The purposes of the Nivea campaign are to inform their addressees about the holistic concept of Nivea products and to invite them to take part in this campaign by sharing the concept of beauty in their websites and consequently to persuade them to buy Nivea products. As a medium, the ad campaign was intended for diverse media, although for this paper the focus is on television ads (that rely on music and moving pictures). Both versions use soft-selling technique--rely more on mood than on exhortation, and on the implication that life will be better with the product (Cook 1994/2001:15) paired with an appeal to emotion and humor (Bernstein 1974:118 as cited in Cook 1994/2001:15).

Comparison of the texts that appeared in English and Spanish versions


The main function of music in an ad is to set the memory (recall), through unconscious repetition of catchy melodies in relation to the images and narration. It is also said that music is responsible for “describing” and “expressing” (Aumont 1990).

During the course of the ad, music can be heard in the background. The jingle “I'll be there” is a commercial version which was composed especially for Nivea by Andreas Bruhn and Michi Beslan and was published by Songs Brooner e.K., Berlin / The Berlin Label, IPI (CEA). The jingle (see Table 1) used for both versions was the same, except that it was shorter in the Spanish version due to running time constraint (the underlined texts are those that were edited out). Nivea chose to retain the music of the original version for two possible reasons: to retain their international identity and the fact that in Spain it is frequent to hear English songs in Spanish advertisements (this could be a manifestation of Spain’s increasing recognition of the importance of English). The jingle is an upbeat music, which may be classified as pop rock which creates a positive feeling and optimism to the hearer, complementing the voiceover and the images of the ad campaign.

Table 1

English Version

Spanish Version

All these things…they… come alive… in between us …day and night …oh yeah…all I had wanted is never enough …until you make it….you make it…. you make it…. to find your own way, no matter how you’ll find it one day… and on the right way …it might just come along…oh yeah

In between us…day and night…oh yeah…all I had wanted is…until you make it….you make it…. you make it…to find your own way, no matter how you’ll find it one day…


The people behind the Nivea advertising campaign probably thought about what Castro Prieto and Pereira Rodriguez (1994:386) said about translation, “it is not possible to do literal translation; what is possible is to do adaptation...” And this is what they actually did, presumably because “from the moment that translation involves not only of written texts but in partnership with other communication media, the translator's task becomes more complicated and limited by these at the same time... from the point of view of the communication theory, the concept of subordinate translation involves the following elements: the existence of more than one communication channel, the sender of the original culture, the receiver of the culture, the noise, and the translator (Mayoral Asensio and San Salvador 1986:95).”

Table 2 shows that Nivea followed the copy adaptation (adapting the text to fit the culture of its target group) process in its translation into Spanish, since the essence of good advertising copy is not about simply translating the words; it is about encoding the right concepts and those concepts may well vary from culture to culture (Goddard 1998:80, 83).

Table 2


English Version


Spanish Version


Beauty is more than what we see. It´s also what we feel and who we are.

The first sentence calls to mind the idiom, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” associating beauty with what can be seen by the eyes. This is actually a collocation (defined by Oxford English Dictionary as, “a word or group of words that habitually occur together”) or more specifically relate the text of the ad to an idiomatic expression. However, it seemed that the translated version does not fully represent the exact concept of the original text.

Belleza es más que un ideal. Y más que una idea. (Literal translation: La belleza es más de lo que vemos. Es también lo que sentimos y lo que somos.)


It is within every one of us and in those shared moments between us. (18 syllables)

The text “…in those shared moments between us” was edited out in the Spanish version. If the focus is on meaning, it would have been better to have it translated into Spanish “… en los momentos que compartimos entre nosotros.” However, if the focus is on the timing, the advertiser made the right decision to reduce it into “también entre nosotros ” because in doing so, the syllables are more or less the same (18 for English and 19 for Spanish version). If word for word translation had been applied, the syllables would total 26, resulting in a longer running time.

What actually happened here was that the translator chose the pragmatic use of language, since most Spanish speakers would opt for “ entre nosotros” rather than the longer “compartimos entre nosotros.”

Está en cada uno de nosotros y también entre nosotros. (19 syllables)


Sometimes it appears on the surface. Sometimes it radiates from within.

This part was edited out in the Spanish version. Maybe the advertiser thought that this is the least important text within the copy and could be deleted without affecting the over-all message.

----edited out----


We can see beauty with our eyes and feel it in our hearts.

It is not a literal translation. The translator probably considered the pragmatic point of view. As Tanaka (1994:1-13) said, “understanding advertisements is not merely a matter of decoding, and that the interpretation of advertisements is best approach from a pragmatic point of view.”

Es lo único que llena nuestros ojos y también nuestro corazón. (Literal translation: Podemos ver la belleza con nuestros ojos y sentirlo en nuestros corazones.)


It is as individual and rich as life itself.

There was an added word in the Spanish version. However, the text “plural” made the copy sound better and more persuasive. The translator was able to enrich the target discourse (Sidiropoulou 1998:8). In addition, the English version used the third person singular neuter pronoun, “it”, while in Spanish, the translator used the feminine noun la belleza .

La belleza es tan personal, plural y fascinante como la vida misma.


That’s what beauty is for Nivea

This is an appropriate translation.

Esto es lo que belleza es para Nivea


Share with us what beauty means to you at www.NIVEA.co.uk/beautyis

This is an appropriate translation. At the end of both advertisements, Nivea expects consumers to express their definition of beauty by sending pictures and definitions to Nivea websites.

Comparte lo que belleza es para ti en http://Nivea.es

In both versions, the voiceover talent is appropriately a woman, since the majority of the target audience are women thus, providing a link between the voiceover and the target audience. The choice of pronouns in both versions strengthens this link further; representing some sort of interaction. We/Us and Nosotros/ Nuestro used in both versions produce a sense of solidarity with the customer and also remind the audience of the basic communication situation between the speaker (the linguist called first person) and the hearer (the second) (Myers 1994:77-89). However, the use of Nosotros/ Nuestro in Spanish makes the audience think that it is not only addressing/ including women in the conversation but men as well which is not apparent in the English version.

Apparently, the translator of the Spanish version applied the pragmatic point of view in its adaptation of the text from English to Spanish, particularly from voiceover text nos. 1 to 4. This aimed to remove the texts that would lengthen the required running time or to say it as a Spanish speaker would say it, for example in text no. 4. This can also be related to Relevance (Sperber and Wilson 1986a, 1995), an approach to communication based on the observation that most natural communication does not involve sequences of totally direct informative utterances or questions followed by literal answers. Therefore, where speakers and hearers in a conversation each assume that the others are rational and cooperative participants, conversation moves forward as each hearer finds the relevance of what was just said.

Comparison of the images that appeared in English and Spanish versions

The images in the two versions of the advertising campaign were basically the same (in the Spanish version, some images had to be removed due to shorter running time) with the exception of the texts that appear along with the images.

The images that were used in the two versions are a representation of universal events that occur or could occur in whatever country or culture (a friend talking to another friend in trouble, a father coming to see his newborn child, a woman jogging in the park, etc.). These universal images make sense to anyone watching the two versions of the ad campaign, transcending the different cultures. The texts that appeared as images are as follows:

Table 3

English Version

Spanish Version

Beauty is love (picture no. 30)

Belleza es vivir (picture nos. 18-19)

Beauty is life (picture nos. 31-34)

Belleza es seducción (picture nos. 20-23)

Beauty is life (picture no. 35)

Belleza es ternura (picture no. 24)

Beauty is care (picture no. 36)

Belleza es ternura (picture no. 25)

Share with us what beauty means to you at www.NIVEA.co.uk/beautyis (picture no. 37)

Comparte qué es belleza para ti en Nivea.es (picture no. 26)

Please refer to Tables 4 and 5 to see the texts that appeared with the images

Both versions use a statement type of sentence which asserts facts about the world by setting up pattern of similarity, parallel words (Myers 1994:46-61). The sentence structure rhymes; echoes a usual pattern of defining a word such as, “Happiness is a state of well-being and contentment” Merriam Webster Dictionary). Hence, when the slogans flashed on the screen, “Beauty is love,” “Beauty is life,” and “Beauty is care,” it gives a sound of familiarity and definition to the word Beauty--since most of the time, the use of the verb “ is is an attempt to define a particular word. The same can be said in the Spanish version, “Belleza es vivir ,” “Belleza es seducción,” and “Belleza es ternura.” As Myers (1994:30-45) said, “in ads, as in poems and jokes, the patterning of the forms of the ad--the product name or the jingle or the headline--may lead us to important meaning relations,” as in the way beauty or belleza is stressed in the Nivea ad campaign.

Both versions use texts (slogans) that are catchy, easily recordable or memorable (Myers 1994:30-45). They are memorable because they rhyme and run in a fairly regular rhythm. This was achieved by employing the most common technique, to repeat a sound. Nivea employed alliteration, the effect when the consonant b (the b in the word “Beauty” and “Belleza”) is repeated several times. It stands out because, according to Myers, those sounds that are made by stopping the airstream completely with your tongue or lips and then releasing the air (p, b, m, n, t, d, k, and g) when repeated is where parallelism is supposed to be noticed.

Rhyme is defined as the repetition of ending sounds. In the English version of the ad, it can be said that it rhymes (“Beauty is love,” “Beauty is life,” and “Beauty is care”) because there was a repetition of similar sound but in the translated Spanish version, the rhyme was lost (“Belleza es vivir,” “Belleza es seducción,” and “Belleza es ternura ”). Another word that is repeated along with the texts/ slogans is the word Nivea, which generates product/ brand name recall.

Focusing now on the actual translation of the texts, the lexical category did not change; in the English version, beauty is defined as love, life or care (all are nouns) and when translated into Spanish, Belleza is defined as vivir, seducción, or ternura (all are nouns as well). However, the Spanish version is not an accurate translation of the English text because the literal translation of “Beauty is love”, ¨Beauty is life,” and “Beauty is care” should be “Belleza amor,” “Belleza es vida ,” and “Belleza es ternura" (while this is not a literal translation of care, it may be considered an appropriate translation since the word tenderness is a noun which means the quality of being caring, gentle, or sympathetic).” If the translator chose to translate life into vida and care into ternura the Spanish translation would have been more consistent with the original text, but would have lost the rhyme that it originally has.

In general, the copywriter/s of the Nivea ad campaign had put enormous premium in finding patterns of language that are memorable, and they were successful in producing textual patterns in the English version, and to the Spanish version as well (albeit not to the same degree as the original text). As Bassat (1993) affirms, the advertising slogan is like an operatic aria: “short and memorable, deep and bright, simple and unique powerful, durable, credible and relevant.”

Comparison of the English and Spanish versions as a whole

Barthes (1984b as cited in Tanaka 1994:1-2) argues that there are three kinds of message in advertising: linguistic message, coded iconic message, and the non-coded iconic message. In the NIVEA ad campaign, in both versions, the linguistic message was very clear: ¨beauty is truly so individual and multifaceted, that there is no stereotype of beauty¨ (Jo Wood, Consumer Relations Marketing Director). The coded iconic message is that beauty can be found in people of different generations (mother and child, a newborn baby, et. al.), gender (male or female) and in different circumstances (in the hospital, in the park, at home, etc.). Meanwhile, the non-coded iconic message is that the diversity of the notion of beauty and the audience may also share their concept of beauty. In addition, the audience may perceive that with the use of the Nivea products they may also have the same smooth and beautiful skin that the on-cam talents have (because the audience was exposed to images of smooth and clear facial skin among different people).

The texts/slogans that appeared with the images/videos provided a synthesis of the idea of beauty (or brand name) to help memorize it and therefore the item (product/s) advertised (Degrado Godoy 2005:6). However, what is not clear is why the text/slogans were changed in the Spanish version: “Beauty is love” ≠ “Belleza es vivir (amor)” and “Beauty is life” ≠ “Belleza es seducción (vida ).”

Although the jingle evokes a positive feeling while one listens to it, its lyrics applied in either of the two versions do not actually add a new meaning to the images and the voiceover. The lyrics were not carefully timed with the images.

The rule of thumb in TV advertising is that where there are parallelism on one level, there will be parallelism on other levels as well. This is true in the Nivea ad campaign. While the voiceover employed We/Us and the song use the pronoun You, it creates a sense of solidarity between the advertiser and the audience and also reminds the audience of the basic communication situation that was previously mentioned. Another parallelism is the color of the brand name of Nivea, the color scheme of the clothes worn by the on-cam talents, and the backdrop/ambience of the different scenes. All consists of the blue and white color combination. Nivea uses the two colors effectively as ¨color is critical in retaining the attention and act on the individual's emotional capacity for reflection¨ (Degrado Godoy 2005:6). Furthermore, in both versions, the copywriter/translator preferred to use coordinative structures (and in English and y in Spanish) over subordinative ones as can be seen in voiceover text nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5.

A question to be raised in relation to the choice of images that appeared in the Spanish version is why the advertisers chose to delete the images of an old couple on a date when images of other relatively younger women could have been edited out since they appeared on more than one occasion.

Nevertheless, there was an interesting aspect of this ad campaign. When one views an advertisement, it is expected that the product being advertised will be shown. This was not the case with Nivea. In fact, no Nivea product appeared in the advertisement. It was the brand name that appeared several times (see picture nos. 30-37 in English and nos. 18-26 in Spanish). This deviation permitted the audience to focus on the multifaceted aspects and definition of beauty instead of the final aim of any product advertiser, which is to sell their products.

4. Conclusion

Reboul (1978:87-88) said that ¨to transfer an advertisement from one language (and culture) to another, possible answers would be to translate, adapt, and create.¨ As seen in this exercise, the advertisers of Nivea opted for copy adaptation; they did not do a literal translation, and some parts were changed such as the images, texts, and other elements of the ad.

As has been observed in the previous discussion, ¨some texts in the voice over readily lend themselves to translation´ (Hatim 1996:122) while some were deleted or translated contrary to what was expected. The Spanish version was the result of advertising constraints: ¨the demands of brevity, the relationship between text and pictures, the semantics, the implication of the phrases, and the effects of style¨ (Myers 1994:2), and the task to retain and disseminate the over-all message of the advertisement to Spanish language and cultural context without losing the original message of the ad campaign.

This exercise has proven that ¨advertisement…constitutes an important pedagogical instrument in preparatory translation training (Belcher 1994:86).¨ It allows the learner to delve more profoundly on what the ad was trying to communicate and to compare the English and Spanish versions instead of just merely viewing them as a disinterested bystander who is anxious to see the continuation of the program he or she is watching.


Aumont, Jacques and Michel Marie. 1990. Análisis del Film. Paidós Comunicación, Barcelona.

Adab, Beverly. 2001). “The Translation of Advertising: A Framework for Evaluation.” Babel 47:2: 133-157.

Arabian Business.com. 8 January 2009. Beauty is… Retrieved from: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/wap/article.php?542893.6.1(5 May 2009)

Bassat, Luis.1993. El libro Rojo de la Publicidad. Barcelona, Folio.

Campos Pardillos, Miguel Ángel.1998. “Advertising Discourse: When Do We Translate, and How?” In II Estudios sobre traducción e interpretación (Actas de las I Jornadas Internacionales de Traducción e Interpretación de la Universidad de Málaga) ., edited by Leandro Félix Fernández and Emilio Ortega Arjonilla, 969-980. Málaga: University of Málaga.

Campos Pardillos, Miguel Ángel.1994. Mecanismos de adaptación e individualización del mensaje publicitario en lengua inglesa. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Alicante.

Castro Prieto, Paloma and Ana Maria Pereira Rodríguez. 1994. Publicidad y traducción. In Actas de los IV Encuentros Complutenses en torno a la Traducción, edited by Margit Raders and Rafael Martín-Gaitero 1994. 381-388. Madrid: Editorial Complutense.

Cook, Guy. 1994/2001. “Introduction: The Genre of Advertising.” In The Discourse of Advertising edited by Guy Cook 1994/2001. 1-19. London and New York: Routledge.

Cook, Guy.1994/2001. “Pictures, music, speech and writing.” In The Discourse of Advertising edited by Guy Cook 1994/2001. 42-64. London and New York: Routledge.

Cómitre Narváez, Isabel. 1999. Traducción y publicidad. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Málaga.

Corpas Pastor, Gloria, Adela Martínez García and María del Carmen Amaya Galván, eds. 2002. En torno a la traducción-adaptación del mensaje publicitario. Málaga: University of Málaga.

Degrado Godoy, María Dolores. 2005. “Televisión, Publicidad, y Comunicación. Comunicar.” Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina y el Caribe, España y Portugal número 25. Huelva, Spain: Grupo Comunicar. Retrieved from: http://redalyc.uaemex.mx/redalyc/pdf/158/15825078.pdf (6 May 2009)

Goddard, Cliff.1998. Semantic analysis: A practical introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Guidère, Mathieu. 2001. “A Translating Practices in International Advertising.” Translation Journal 5:1. Retrieved from: http://accurapid.com/journal/15advert.htm (25 March 2009).

Hatim, Basil. 1996. Communication across cultures: Translation Theory and Contrastive Text Linguistics. Exeter: University of Exeter Press.

Herrero Ruiz, Javier. 2006. “The role of metaphor, metonymy, and conceptual blending in understanding advertisements: the case of drug-prevention ads.” Revista alicantina de studios ingleses. November 2006 No. 19. 169-190.

Larson, Mildred L. 1998. Meaning-based translation: A guide to cross-language equivalence. Lanham, MD: University Press of America and Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Martín, Jacinto, Reyes Ruiz, Juan Santaella, and José Escánez. 1996. Los lenguajes especiales: (lenguaje jurídico-administrativo, lenguaje científico-técnico, lenguaje humanísitico, lenguaje periodístico y publicitario, lenguaje literario). Granada: Comares

Mateo Martínez, José. 1998. “Be Relevant (Relevance, Translation and Cross-Culture).” Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses 11, 171-182.

Mayoral Asensio, Roberto, Dorothy Kelly and Natividad Gallardo. 1986. “Concepto de traducción subordinada (cómic, cine, canción, publicidad). Perspectivas no lingüísticas de la traducción (I).” In Pasado, presente y futuro de la lingüística aplicada en España. Actas del III Congreso Nacional de Lingüística Aplicada, Valencia, 16-20 abril 1985, edited by Francisco Fernández Fernández. Valencia: AESLA: 95-105.

Myers, Greg.1994. Words in Ads. New York: Edward Arnold

Nivea Beauty is Campaign. 2009. Retrieved from:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkXoDXte3kQ, also available at http://www.Nivea.co.uk/beauty_is (23 March 2009)

Reboul, Olivier.1978. El poder del slogan. Valencia: Fernando Torres, D.L.

Sidiripoulou, Maria.1998. “Advertising in Translation. English vs. Greek.” Meta XLIII, 2:1-14.

Snell-Hornyby, Mary. 1988. Translation Studies: An Integrated Approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Snyder, Leslie B., Bartjan Willenborg and James Watt (1991). Advertising and Cross-Cultural Convergence in Europe, 1953-1989. European Journal of Communication, 6: 441-468.

Spot Nivea, Belleza es, facetas. January 2008. Retrieved from: http://video.aol.com/video-detail/spot-Nivea-belleza-es-facetas-enero-2008/1935927310 , also available at http://www.Nivea.es/beauty_is (23 March 2009).

Tanaka, Keiko. 1994. Advertising Language: A pragmatic approach to advertisements in Britain and Japan. London and New York, Routledge.

Velasco Sacristán, Marisol. 2006. “Advertising English and ESP: The British Cosmopolitan ad as an example of 'specialized' text.” Ibérica 12: 65.88.