Tag Archives: Asian American

Moon Lovers – Scarlet Heart Ryeo: A Case study of Transcreation

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Korean drama Scarlet Heart Ryeo

 

In my career as a market researcher, I have tested many concepts and taglines transcreated (The process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context) for multicultural audiences. Most of the time, the respondents’ reactions are lukewarm and they bluntedly point out that it’s something translated from English and doesn’t really flow. Admittedly, transcreating a creative concept is a lot more challenging than creating an original concept. It needs to convey the same message as the original concept while at the same time is unique, creative, culturally relevant and authentic in its own way.

 

When I saw Korean drama Scarlet Heart Ryeo recently, I thought it was an excellent sample of transcreation and there are some lessons that could be drawn for agencies that practice the art of transcreating creative concepts for multicultural consumers.

 

Scarlet Heart Ryeo drew my attention because it is the remake of a popular Chinese drama Scarlet Heart (a first for Korean drama). It was recently aired in Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and can be viewed by the rest of world on the video streaming website DramaFever. Having watched the original Scarlet Heart series, I was impressed by the creative adaptation of the Korean version that remained true to the spirit of the original story yet reflected Korean authenticity.

 

Both the original and transcreated versions reflect a creative interpretation of history. The storyline is based on a young 21st century woman being transported back in time where she meets princes of the ruling family. The heroine’s strong character, spirit of freedom and kindness wins her friendship from all of the princes.  She eventually falls in love with the 8th prince and later the 4th prince and finds herself entangled in a power struggle for the throne.

 

Four key elements, which demonstrate this, are described below:

 

Cultural elements

The Korean version is set in Goryeo Dynasty and incorporates many cultural elements and customs of the time.  Scenes depicting the sword dance and ceremony to chase evil spirits from the palace, bathhouses and the rain ritual after a long drought are examples of authentic cultural elements.

 

Creative adaptation of the story

The story is also adapted to be closer to Korean history.  The power struggle comes from the ruling family’s relationship with powerful clans that the king relies on — instead of a struggle within the palace as in the original version.  Another example is how the relationship between the brothers and their roles are depicted.

 

Creative adaptation of main characters

There are also considerable adaptations made to the main characters. Heroine Hae Soo, unlike Zhang Xiao who is well versed in Chinese history, has difficulty remembering historical facts.  She also is portrayed as illiterate since she has not studied the Chinese characters which are used by aristocrats at the time.  However, her expertise in makeup application enables her to cover Wang Soo’s (the 4th prince) facial scar – this ultimately changes his fate.  Wang Soo is also portrayed much more charismatic compared to the cold and calculating 4th prince ,Yin Zhen, in the Chinese version.  Further adaptations are observed by the use of more fight scenes for Wang Soo.  This variation is utilized because the story is set during the medieval period where fighting skills was one of the critical qualities of a capable prince and leader.

 

Korean drama style

The original Chinese period drama is serious and melancholy due to its theme of a royal power struggle and tragic ending.  The Korean version, while still serious in tone, has more light-hearted moments  –exemplifying a key characteristic of Korean story telling.

 

So what does a Korean drama have to do with marketing to multicultural consumers in the U.S.? Advertising agencies are often given the assignment of adapting a General Market concept for various multicultural consumer targets – Hispanic, Asian, and African American. Agencies have taking various approaches, from simply translating the copy, to casting multicultural actors while keeping the English to creatively adapting the concept for their target revamping everything including copy, casting, and production in the process.

 

Under the pressure of maximizing efficiency and profit, it’s tempting to have one creative concept and branding platform and then translating it into different languages with minimal adaptation. But as we can see from the Scarlet Heart Ryeo example above, while one can have an integrated approach, there is room for transcreation to tailor your canpaign story for specific targets. And a transcreation that is orginal and well thought out can have a cross cultural appleal. It was a hit in China (acculmulated more than 1.7 billion views on Chinese streaming site Youku) and the second most popular drama on DramaFever in North and South America.

 

In case you’re interested, the show is available on DramaFever and Viki with English subtitles. Be warned, you may catch the infectious drama fever.

 

Special thanks to Edward Chang of APartnership and Jay Kim of AAAZA for their feedback and input.

 

Chinese drama Scarlet Heart 2011

Asian American business owners represent significant opportunities for business service providers

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ASIAN CAFE OWNER/WORKER BEHIND COUNTER

According to the newly released inaugural annual survey of entrepreneurs by the Census, more than half of the minority-owned firms with paid employees were Asian-owned.

 

This represents great opportunities for companies that provide services to business owners such as financial institutions, shipping, software/cloud, etc.

 

The proposed EB6 startup visa, if passed, will likely accelerate growth of immigration and business ownership for this particular population given that China and India send the highest number of international students to the U.S. annually.

 

A few things that marketers should keep in mind when reaching out to Asian American business owners:

1) 2/3 of Asian Americans are foreign born, they face unique challenges in language barrier, navigating through regulations and healthcare systems, and having credit history to obtain credit lines or loans.

2) Asian Americans are highly concentrated in a few states and metro areas, where share of business ownership exceeds share of population.

3) Asian Americans are relationship oriented, particularly when it comes to business. Marketers need to take the time to understand the target’s unique needs and build relationship with them.

Why WeChat should be part of your social media strategy and marketing mix, and why you should care

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By Iris Yim

 

Although WeChat is relatively unknown in the U.S., it has close to 550 million actively monthly users and has become the default social media and a cultural and social phenomenon in China in the short amount of time since its launch in 2011.

 

WeChat is a messaging app developed and owned by Tencent which also owns another popular messaging service in China – QQ.  It’s essentially a messaging app with which you can make free voice and video calls and leave voice and text messages but it also has “Moments” which is similar to a Facebook wall where you can see the updates of your contacts and the content they share.  So it’s like a combination of Whatsapp + Facebook.  It’s easy to set up a group chat to interact with friends and family or a group of people with similar interests.

 

Here are some interesting statistics of WeChat:

– Percentage of Internet users in China that use WeChat – 65%

– Number of registered WeChat accounts – 1.1 billion

– Average amount of time Chinese adults spend on WeChat daily – over 40 minutes

– Percentage of users that open it more than 10 times a day – 55.2%

 

So WeChat is the default social media in China, so what?  Why and how does it concern marketers in the U.S?  You may ask.  It’s true with all its marketing efforts to expand in the U.S., WeChat has barely made a dent in the social media market in this country which is dominated by Facebook.  Latest statistics suggest only 2% mobile Internet users in the US that use WeChat on a monthly basis.  However, if you’re targeting Asian Americans, you will need to pay attention to WeChat and here is why.

 

– Chinese is the largest segment of the Asian American population and 70% of them are foreign born.  They have friends and family in China who all use WeChat and the immigrant himself will be enticed to sign up as well.

– There are 274,439 Chinese international students in the U.S. for the school year of 2013-2014 who all use WeChat to keep in touch with friends and family at home and fellow Chinese international students in the U.S.

– Then not to mention the tens of thousands of Chinese tourists who visit the U.S. and shopping is an essential item on the itinerary.  Last year, 1.8 million Chinese tourists visited America and spent a whopping $21.1 billion. The number of visitors from China to the U.S. is expected to rise to 3.1 million in 2019.  And they use WeChat to share information on merchandise, deals and brands with friends and family.  Many of them are on a shopping mission to not only shop for themselves but also shop for friends and family.

 

For Chinese who live in the U.S., WeChat provides a platform to bring the community together to share news, interests, concerns and bond with each other.  Some large group chats have hundreds of active participants.  News travels fast among these group chats and the community will be galvanized into action in a very short amount of time.

 

On May 15, 2015, when a coalition of Asian American groups announced a complaint against Harvard on discriminating Asian Americans for admission at a press conference, one of the attendees sent pictures, videos and reporting of the press conference to his WeChat group chat and these messages, pictures and videos were redistributed to the numerous group chat across the U.S.  The Chinese community learnt about the news of the complaint hours before mainstream media’s report on the complaint against Harvard.

 

Given WeChat’s influence on the Chinese community in the U.S., politicians and community organizations are taking notes.  I have seen Hilary Clinton’s ad on WeChat recruiting Chinese staff and volunteers for her campaign.  Recently, a police department in Flushing, NY, established a public WeChat account to communicate with and better serve the Chinese community in the area.  However, brands in the U.S. are largely missing in action.

 

Given that China is the number one source of new immigrants, the number one source of international students to the U.S. and the whopping spending power of Chinese tourists, WeChat is an effective way to reach these target groups and should part of your social media strategy and marketing mix.

 

Here is an example of the marketing power of WeChat

A friend of mine shared a blog post on “Moments” by an entertainment news blogger about the shoes the female lead wears in the latest Jurassic Park movie.  It has an interesting and humorous twist to it.  It comments on how the female lead miraculously outruns the dinosaurs in those shoes and why every girl should have a pair of shoes like that so that they can win the race of life.  It goes on to talk about the brand and designer of the shoes.  The result?  I went on Amazon.com to order a pair for myself!!

 

WeChat Bazaar blog Jurassic World WeChat Bazaar blog Jurassic World 2 WeChat Bazaar blog Sam Edelman shoes  WeChat Bazaar blog Sam Edelman shoes 2