3 common mistakes in bilingual advertisement


Bilingual advertisement might be a great idea. Especially in a newspaper or magazine issued in a country with more than one official language or in journals read by many nationalities. Quite often you can find these kind of ads in free magazines available in international trains or planes. As great as the benefits of such an ad may seem, there are many things that can go wrong and make your marketing inefficient. Below you’ll find three most common blunders.

1. Ignoring linguistic review

Words speak louder than images. At least in the case of bilingual ads. Words in your advertisement are much more powerful than your attractive graphic or original slogan. The reason is simple: you’re putting your cards on the table. You’re communicating in both languages, so the risk of linguistic and cultural mishaps increases. Even if not everyone understands both languages on your offline or online ad, every little mistake is one step further from gaining your reader’s trust. Clumsy phrases, literal translations, grammar or stylistic mistakes are a big no-no, so work with professionals to create your flawless ad in both languages. With the help of professional translators and reviewers you can avoid such mistakes as the one presented below.

bilingual ad



This ad was placed in a flight magazine of a popular budget airlines. It seems that the company wanted to reach to Polish and English-speaking readers. However, the first English sentences already discourage those sensitive to language and its correct use. As a result, from a product or brand the focus is shifted towards awkward phrases or unclear message. Such a flawed text misses its point and doesn’t exploit the full potential of bilingual advertising.

2. Failing to address your target audience

Placing an ad in magazines makes sense if you’re sure your target group will actually read it. Double check if your ideal customers are regular readers of the paper and if they actually pay attention to ads. Also, find out if there’s a point in publishing your ad in two languages. Maybe your ideal customers speak only one of the languages, or maybe speakers of a totally different language would be more interested in your products and services. First, determine your target group, including the regions where your target customers live, languages they speak and magazines they read.

3. Focusing on features

There is a difference between informative and persuasive texts. There’s also a big difference between focusing on information and features only, and between focusing on benefits of purchasing your products or services. Your customers don’t really care how your product works or why your service is possible. They are more interested to know how your product can make their live easier, more enjoyable or more comfortable. So whether you advertise in one or two languages at a time, remember to fine-tune the content and present benefits, rather than boring information.


Bilingual ads may prove that your brand caters for the needs of many different customers and shows that you actually speak their language. But to be effective, you’ll need to make sure that your ad is adjusted to your target readers. Cheap solutions and careless phrases hidden between the lines won’t help you cross the border and reach to a wider group of consumers.

Have you advertised your product in a bilingual ad? What are other things that can go wrong in bilingual marketing?



Dorota helps digital brands infuse their content with a local touch. She is a localization consultant, translator specialized in IT, prompt engineer, and a book author. Dorota teaches online courses on localization, writes for her blog and a Medium publication. She also runs a Small Biz AI, a Substack newsletter for freelancers and small business owners ready to discover handy AI tools.

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