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Language can turn ideas into magic or dust: Tim Love

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VARCA, GOA: In today?s diverse world compressed by an overwhelming digital presence, language is the most powerful technology around.

"Language is a technology in itself," Omnicom Group vice chairman and Omnicom Asia Pacific India Middle-East and Africa (APIMA) CEO Tim Love said, presenting a new facet to the debate of the relevance of technology in a post-digital World.

Quoting McLuhan, Love said that once you master technology, it becomes invisible. As human beings have more or less mastered their respective language - verbal and non verbal, it is becoming invisible. Every advertising professional needs to bear in mind that this technology is omnipresent and affects the reception of the message globally.

As a consequence, we have also started focusing on electronic technology and started undermining the potential of "human technology". The potential of human insights and understanding still plays a major role in determining the effectiveness of an ad message.

Speaking at Goafest 2012, Love went on to give the example of an automobile brand Nova which was to be launched in the Latin American countries. While in some cultures and languages the word Nova refers to something new, in this particular country it had a negative connotation. The local agency professional pointed this out to the brand. It did not deter the brand from going ahead with the name, but it did make for a good study of the multicultural fabric we operate in and how marketers and ad professionals need to be sensitive to the language difference that exists in the world.

"The worst thing you can do is to presume we all think the same," Love warned. "Respecting the difference in the languages and culture and moulding your communication accordingly makes for a better strategy. Even sign language is not universal."

It is necessary to keep in mind the syntax of different languages as well. For example, Japanese use their verb at the very end. Also, the intonations in the language make it slowly spoken. Hence, while communicating to a Japanese audience, the message should keep these things in mind for the audience to better assimilate and comprehend the matter.

Cultural agility also needs to be maintained to gauge the preferences and choices of the audience in this case. While some factors like language, environment and symbols may be evident, there are many aspects like religion, history, superstitions, values and attitudes that are more covert.

"I would give three tips for maintaining cultural agility. First, treat language with more reverence. Second, when using an interpreter slow down and use crisp sound bytes and third, learn how to say hello, please and thank you in the language of your communication partner," Love said.

An idea is not an idea till it drives innovation and explores new realms of understanding and conversation. In this context, Love concluded that an idea can be turned into magic or dust depending on the hand that rubs against it. Using the linguistic and cultural context while planning and executing a campaign can make that difference between dust and magic.

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