;   Medical Translation Insight: To be effective, drug marketing must be local(ized) - ForeignExchange Translations

To be effective, drug marketing must be local(ized) medical translationGlobal marketing and advertising are ripe with missteps and embarrassments.

Medical translation professionals deal with a unique challenge: How to adapt branding, imaging and marketing to local markets but stay "within the lines" or regulatory compliance? While some medical device and pharmaceutical companies take the route of providing translated content from headquarters, more and more drug and device companies assign responsibility to national or regional offices.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal lends more credibility to this second approach. Drug Firms Up Ante in Japan talks about Western drug companies' efforts to increase sales in Japan.

As this graphic from the WSJ article shows marketing spend has jumped in support of these efforts:

And in trying to gain a larger market share, pharmaceutical companies are realizing that their marketing messages must be localized. Simply adding sales reps isn't enough - firms need to tailor their marketing to the uniqueness of the market.

This increased awareness will affect how companies translate (or write in local languages) their marketing collateral. While the WSJ article describes the changing situation in Japan, it's safe to expect a similar shift in other markets that are becoming more competitive.

ForeignExchange provides specialized medical translation services for medical device and pharmaceutical companies.


  1. cgtradmed said...
    Oh yes ! It must be local(ized).
    For medical translators, it's a kind of new outlet/opportunity which is growing rather slowly, but steadily.

    I jumped into that a little more than one year ago, for my satisfaction and, apparently, for one of the pharma "majors"' satisfaction too.

    It is very demanding, but very interesting.
    You need motivation, creativity, inspiration, and a deep medical knowledge, if only to check, edit and (often) correct the "purely" medical statements that can be found in the documents to be translated. Because, never forget that most of those documents are written by advertising writers whose medical knowledge is too often limited, not to say disastrous.
    Moreover, pharmaceutical advertising is much more controlled and regulated in France than in US, for instance; so there are a lot of "no-no" that you must explain with the most delicate diplomacy to your clients. Also, some pictures used to illustrate the documentation might not fit for the French market: it may happen that they are not meaningful for French people. Furthermore, some slogans or sentences might be harmful or offensive in the target language / country if one contents oneself with translating.

    All those aspects must be explained to the Clients, with sincerity and with diplomacy [if possible, which is not always the case for me after the sixth explanation of the reason why such or such word/sentence/image is not acceptable in France :-)]

    To succeed in this task you must be more than a translator; you must not hesitate to make several suggestions for a same concept, this way the clients have the feeling that they have freedom of choice; you must not be shy : you are the one who knows what works or not and what does/doesn't well in your country.

    Sincerely, I don't regret this evolution of our profession.
    Amber said...
    Marketing in the dietary supplement industry is certainly a challenge. Stay "within the lines"or GMP compliance is like constantly hitting a brick wall. Kinda hard to market when you can't say ANYTHING without having some sort of compliance issue.

    (Via LinkedIn)
    Walter Keutgen said...
    This is somehow the case for all branches. I remember having read in the 70's a British advertisement for a car X comparing it to a competitor Y with a wording meaning: costs a little less but still only a Y; a U.S.-American one comparing the own computer brand with oranges and the competitor's one with apples; which also hits the apple producers. Totally forbidden on the European continent. Meanwhile the E.C. mandated the member states to allow comparative advertisement. However you almost do not find any. The reason is that what is stated in the advertisement must be true, else the competitor will sue you. You will not find "the best car in its class" but "one of the best cars in it class".

    (Via LinkedIn)

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