What do you do if what is written between the lines suddenly jumps out at you? Sometimes your customers discover messages that you had not intended to send, but there they are, on a giant billboard. Once someone has pointed it out, it is obvious to everybody, and there is no denying it.
You may have already guessed what I’m talking about: the ‘omnishambles’ moment. There are two ways of dealing with it, one being substantially cheaper than the other.
A quick reminder of the all-too-plausible incident in The Thick of It, the fictional series about top-level administrators in an unspecified UK government: Nicola Murray MP is on the campaign trail for fellow-politician Liam Bentley. Here she is, greeting the media in front of an election poster – or, more precisely, in front of the letters ‘L’ and ‘ley,’ leaving the viewer with the message: “IAM BENT.” Niola being all smiles, she seems to be very proud of this statement of hers.
Malcolm Tucker, swearer-in-chief and arch-nemesis of mediocrity and pusillanimity, has a go at her, culminating in what has become his most iconic verdict: that the situation is an ‘omnishambles.’
The situation is awkward, and the take-home message for marketing professionals is clear: don’t just make sure you get words and phrases right, but look at how letter combinations spell out something you’d rather not see associated with your client’s product or service.
While this may be relatively easy to do in your home market, checking foreign-language versions of your claim is trickier. Linguistic, cultural, and visual aspects all have to be considered. And looking up various letter combinations in a foreign dictionary or on Google will deliver patchy results at best.
And what you cannot do for a foreign language is ascertain which additional letters will spoil your message. An English “To Let” sign only needs one letter (i) to turn it into something misleading, and you’ll definitely catch this one (or not be worried about it). Tons more examples can be found here. We recommend being similarly attentive across all the languages you work in.
I mean, Be in touch!
For more information and to discuss your project, contact Christophe Fricker, Managing Partner, at our UK offices.