A quick example of local adaptation

It’s always fun to find examples of multinationals adapting their products for host markets. Such adaptation (a.k.a. local responsiveness) is one of the key choices such firms face (along with decisions regarding the extent to which resources and activities will be shared/integrated)

The recent 40th birthday of Sesame Street reminded me of their expansion efforts. Actually, Google’s adapted logos showcasing the very familiar characters alerted to me the anniversary.

The list of logos Google used is indicative of the adaptativeness of the Sesame Street creators (once known as the Children’s Television Workshop – now called Sesame Workshop). There were different Muppets featured on Google’s page in Belgium, the Netherlands, Israel, India, South Africa and Mexico.

boobmah chamki Google logo Galli Galli Sim SimIndia’s character’s (above) include Boombah, “a hedonistic, vegetarian lion who believes he is descended from one of India’s historic royal families” and Chamki, “a schoolgirl dressed in the uniform of an Indian government school [who] is the only Sesame Muppet to practice a martial art”. The show is called Galli Galli Sim Sim on the subcontinent, and is predominantly in Hindi.

It isn’t surprising that a company targeting children has made such substantial alterations to meet the needs of overseas markets. Making the show understandable (i.e. in a local language) and relevant (reflecting these kids’ experiences) is the only way the show would achieve its aims (it is worth noting the firm here is a not-for-profit). But I like it because its a fun example.

Oh, and of course, we shouldn’t ignore that Google also adapts its interface for host country audiences…

Any other quirky examples out there?


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2 Responses to “A quick example of local adaptation”

  1. Tom Osegowitsch Says:

    As a lifelong Simpsons fan I’d have to nominate the adaptation of said cartoon series for Arab markets as one of the quirkier examples. Homer became Omar, porkchops became beef, Duff beer became a softdrink etc. For all that, adaptation costs would have actually been minimal — the characters’ voices were dubbed by popular Egyptian actors, and there was some simple tweaking of computer graphics (so that “Beer” read “Soda” etc). That’s it.

    To be truthful I don’t actually know whether the Simpsons ever took off in Arab markets. Probably unlikely since apart from language and the more obvious cultural markers there is so much cultural subtext that might not sit well with the local culture. But the fact that this even went to air is a powerful example of what can be done to make something palatable to a local audience (at minmal expense).

  2. Jo Says:

    The example I have in mind is not necessarily quirky but I think it goes to show how social networking websites no longer use a cookie-cutter template in addressing its users’ interests or preferences.

    By and large, we can agree that Facebook uses a common platform and interface. However what interested me most was its ability to adapt or cater its content to its users.

    For instance, I remember updating my status with regards to my lasik surgery. It went: ‘Zrr zrr (the sound the laser makes) successful!’, followed by comments which enquired what was all that about. I replied that I had gone for lasik surgery. Before I knew it, on the right hand column, I had weblinks that suggested Lasik eye doctors in my geographical area. Now, I thought that was pretty interesting and quick because it is a far cry from the generic enhancement product spam that promises me satisfaction (never mind if they actually targeted the wrong gender segment).

    It is very updated, and if you think about it – very adaptable. It promotes live gigs that are touring in my area based on my music interests, including indie bands! They even provide a link for me to purchase tickets without the hassle of googling the outlet (Ticketek or Ticketmaster?).

    It may not seem much nor quirky, but I am quite impressed by its adaptability and fit – no longer are users subjected to general spam and adverts that are not only unaesthetically pleasing but has no link or interest to its users.

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