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
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.
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).
To transfer an advertisement from one language (and culture) to another, possible answers would be to translate, adapt, and create.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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:
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
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.
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
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.
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