Translation is a super-growth industry. Data from the US Department of Labourshows a 100 percent increase in the number of people employed in the translation industry over the past seven years, and 24 percent more translation companies.
And wherever you find growth, you inevitably find Google in the middle of it. Last week on a conference call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that Google Translatetranslates a staggering 143 billion words every day — for free.
But free comes with a price — and in the case of Google Translate, that price is inaccuracy.
Yes, you can get the gist of something with Google Translate, which is why it’s great for regular folks. But businesses that need quality translation should be steering clear of the Googs.
To demonstrate this, we thought we’d have a bit of fun with Google Translate. If we took famous song lyrics, translated them through Google into a different language and then translated that result back into English, what would we get?
Didn’t I make you feel like you were the only man?
Didn’t I give you nearly everything that a woman possibly can?
Hindi ba ginawa ko sa tingin mo na ikaw lang ang tao?
Hindi ko ba ibinigay sa iyo ang halos lahat ng bagay na maaari ng isang babae?
Do not you think you’re the only person?
Did not I give you almost everything a woman can do?
When the truth is found
To be lies
And all the joy
Within you dies
Don’t you want somebody to love
Don’t you need somebody to love
Ve tüm sevinç
Birinin seni sevmesini istemiyorsun
Sevecek birine ihtiyacın yok
When it is real
And all the joy
It will die inside
You do not want someone to love you
You do not need anybody to love
I am the eggman.
We are the eggmen.
I am the Walrus.
Es esmu olu saimnieks.
Mēs esam ērģeles.
ES esmu valzirgs.
I am the owner of eggs.
We are an organ.
The EU is a waltz.
You gotta fight for your right to party.
You are fighting for your rights to the party.
It was cold and lonely in the deep dark night.
It was dark and cold in the dark in the dark.
You’re the meaning in my life. You’re my inspiration.
At the end of the day, all politicians have are their words. Well-designed political slogans can push a so-so candidate over the top if it’s mobilizing, motivating and simple enough to get behind.
Let’s look at some of the best political slogans from the past 120 years and what made them so effective.
It’s Morning Again in America (Ronald Reagan, 1984)
By the time 1984 came around, the United States had gone through 20 years of hell, starting with Vietnam and the counter culture, ending with AIDS and 21% interest rates, and highlighted by Martin Luther King, Watergate, disco music, the Cold War and everything else Billy Joel sang about in We Didn’t Start the Fire. Americans needed calm. They needed to turn the page. And what better way to signal the coming of a new day then to actually signal the coming of a new day?
Yes We Can (Barack Obama, 2008)
In 2008, America was lost. It knew it was the greatest country on earth but it didn’t think it was behaving that way. It was hunting a man it couldn’t find. It had written cheques it couldn’t cash. And the US dollar was worth less than the Canadian dollar. The “American Way” of picking yourself up and dusting yourself off wasn’t going to work this time. So instead of a kick in the ass, Barack Obama extended a hand. And his political slogans invited everyone to join him.
The Last Best West (Clifford Sifton, Canadian Minister of the Interior 1896)
The CanCon portion of this list comes from the Laurier government. In the late 19th century, the race to populate the West was in full force. The Americans had been pushing hard for upwards of 60 years, and all signs were pointing north. Laurier knew he had to extend Canada (then just a 29-year-old country and still part of the British Empire) or America was going to grow around them. To do that, he needed immigrants. He could’ve played the “chase your fortune” card. But he went more basic than that. With gorgeous pictures of the plains, prairies and mountains, he sold the vista and the space, which resonated with Europeans who’d been living on top of each other for 400 years.
Keep Calm And Carry On (British Ministry of Information, 1939)
The line’s obviously experienced a bit of a renaissance lately, but when it was coined in the lead up to war with Hitler, it was the confidence that Brits needed to throw down. As political slogans go, it’s one of the best ever. It was like “Relax, we got this. You go on about your day and we’ll rid the world of its most dangerous person. We’re the British Empire. This is what we do.” Of course, they had to keep reminding themselves of this during the Blitzkrieg, but it all worked out in the end.
It’s Time (Australian Labour Party, 1972)
The conservatives had been in power for 23 years. The Labour Party had no real directional alternative and no experience leading anything bigger than a marching band. But they had Gough Whitlam at the helm, a gifted orator in contrast to the piece-of-cardboard Prime Minister William McMahon. So they let Whitlam do what he did best, and supported him with a super-simple message: 23 years is too long. The Australians bought in and elected the Labour Party. As it turns out, they got what they paid for. Three years later, in what’s still the greatest political and constitutional crisis in Australian History, Whitlam’s government was dismissed by the Governor General. There’s even a miniseries about it.
Labour’s Not Working (British Conservative Party, 1979)
We featured this line in a previous blog, and it’s worth revisiting because it’s that good. The late 70s in Britain were marred by industrial strikes, closing factories and way too many unemployed people. So when Margaret Thatcher, new leader of the Conservatives, tapped ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi to give them a takedown line, they came back with “Labour Isn’t Working.” Ugh…it’s so good.
Make America Great Again (Donald Trump, 2016)
Say what you want about The Donald, but you can’t deny that he’s a skilled marketer. In four words, he captured what much of the country was feeling. It was simple. It was motivating and it got the job done. Not to be understated, it also works perfectly as an easily repeated acronym: You can say “maga” and not trip over it. In the hashtag-dominated world of today, considering this is critical.
Special Mention: Roosevelt for Ex-President (US Presidential Candidate Wendell Willkie, 1940)
Last month, Chinese mega-publisher Alibaba unveiled their own virtual copywriter. It’s a computer program that they claim can generate 20,000 words of copy per second. Their promise to advertisers is that having an AI copywriter in their back pocket will save them time and, more importantly, save them a ton of money because they won’t have to pay a real person to write their sales copy for them.
An AI copywriter won’t take its time.
Alibaba’s proof point for their creation’s efficacy is that consumers couldn’t tell the difference between a human-written piece of text and the AI copywriter’s writing. We’d challenge Alibaba to put their robot’s copy against a skilled copywriter’s work. Because as we’ve said a million times before on this blog, half of writing is knowing when to put the proverbial pencil down. Just because you can write 20,000 words in a second doesn’t mean you should. It’s about finding the right words to drive action. The fact that Alibaba’s AI can generate 20,000 words an hour is like a cook who says they can pump out 200 grilled chicken and veggie plates an hour. Do you really think the meat in any of those mass-produced meals is going to be grilled to perfection? Will you get that quintessential carrot crunch?
Most importantly, if you owned a restaurant and you knew a Zagat critic was coming in that night, would you want to give them one of the 200, or would you take your time and cook something up that was just perfect? Right.
So yes, you’ll save time and money in the creation. But you’ll lose money every time a consumer doesn’t choose your product or service because your copy is blah.
An AI copywriter can’t account for audience
Sure an AI copywriter can write all day about the product it’s given. But as any good copywriter knows, the product is secondary to the customer benefit. “What it is and what it does” pales in comparison to “why should I want this and what will it do for me on an emotional level?” You can’t just program this kind of understanding into a bot — it comes from years of experience resonating with people and moving needles, knowing what works and what doesn’t. And it comes from understanding what people respond to today as opposed to what they may have responded to last year. If you were running a campaign to middle America, you’d probably speak very differently today than you may have at this time two years ago.
Again, you’ll save time and money on the front end, but it’ll cost you dearly on the back end.
An AI copywriter won’t understand your feedback
Copywriting is an iterative process. It’s a partnership between the client and the copywriter to get the message and the tone right.
As we explain to our clients, they know their business better than we do and we rely on them to steer us in the right direction. We listen to their voices and the passion they have for specific things over other things. And as a client, you’d expect to have direct access to your copywriter. You won’t get that with a robot. And you certainly won’t get the level of attention from a robot that you’d get from a real person.
Save time? Sure. Save money? Maybe. Save hassle. Not on your life.
Alibaba, stick to world retail domination
Ali (can we call you Ali?), you wrote the book on eCommerce. You should stick to that. When it comes to writing the copy for that book, leave it to the experts.