Japanese words with no translation

I’ve been quiet for a while because, in short, I’ve been working very, very hard. I mean, not to say that I don’t always work hard, but I’ve been working as a Senior Copywriter in a busy design agency in Clerkenwell, London – and as you’d expect, as a working mother with full membership to the sandwich generation club, it hasn’t left me much spare time.

But I’m here now.

So what have I learned on my copywriting travels? Well, I’ve been working on a Japanese beer brand. It’s a culture I thought I knew a fair bit about. Turns out, I was wrong! But one of the main observations is that there are lots of words in Japanese that have no direct translation in English.

Most copywriters are curious souls – or the good ones are, anyway. So on further investigation, I discovered there are several interesting words across many different languages that have no translation into the English language. Here are some of my favourites:

  1. Fargin (Yiddish) – this means to be genuinely happy for someone when they achieve something for themselves. It is the total opposite of begrudge, which is a word that does exist in our language. Anyone would say we aren’t a positive nation…
  2. Shouganai (Japanese) – this word means something that cannot be helped, so therefore it isn’t worth worrying about. It’s connected to fate, and as a natural born worrier, it feels like we’ve only just learned this concept in England recently, thanks to mindfulness.
  3. Tsundoku (Japanese) – for all the book worms out there, this is a word we really need in English. It’s when you buy a new book but don’t get round to reading it and leave it to pile up with all the other unread books you have, as they sit unloved on a bookshelf. I try not to be this person, but there are always too many books and too little time, right?
  4. Schadenfreude (German) – I’m surprised to note that the English language doesn’t cover this one, but it’s the feeling of enjoyment you get when you hear about other people’s troubles. Clearly this is one for the other juggling parents out there who are often faced with playground smugness, and does not reveal a mean character. GOT THAT?!!
  5. Komorebi (Japanese) – this a word that describes the sunlight that filters through the leaves of a tree. It’s when the light catches and sort of dances around you. Something I can appreciate being a big countryside lover. No wonder the Japanese race are perceived as being so clever when they have such lovely words in their lexicon.

There are lots more foreign words with no direct translation in the English language. It’s quite fascinating, whether you’re a copywriter or not. Right, back to the marketing copywriter stuff – and namely, flogging Japanese beer. TTFN.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas tinkles

Oh sweet Christmas time.

We’ve had a festive feast of ads all featured around John Lewis. What fresh madness is this?! I’m pretty sure the copywriting fun hasn’t stopped there either. Who’d have thought, the baby Jesus is well and truly out of the crib and has been replaced with a piano.

But what an end line! I waited with bated breath, going, “So what? so what? hit me with your killer reason for visiting JL, JL.” And they did! Like Arthur Fowler in an Eastenders Christmas special, they hit me full in the face with a frying pan (or piano, in this case).

“Some gifts are more than just a gift”

Mais bien sur! Oh how we congratulated ourselves. Who’d have thought they’d pull that one out of the bag? Bravo, Adam & Eve DDB. Bravo. On brief, on brand and maybe on budget. And like their clever copywriter and art director, Twitter have also had some fun with it.

Waitrose, however. We like the humour. But you’re not Aldi or Lidl. You’re the premium one. Stollen is well placed, so maybe that begins to work. But their advert does feel slightly off brand – is the tone of voice right? We’re not sure. It’s certainly a departure from the ordinary, we’ll give you that. But it does feel a bit too Elton this year, know what I mean? ‘Stelton’ with a little whiff of 1970.

Naturally, I only ever talk about these two brands, because I have ideas above my station. Like being posh. Marks and Spencer left me a little cold with their Holly Willoughby rummaging around with a plug socket. That’s my recall of it anyway.

Sainsbury’s, well we can mention their nativity because it’s just like the last John Lewis ad. But the good news is, they’ve ditched the orange and black for real life. I can’t be doing with that. Bah copywriter.

Meanwhile, Kevin the carrot was back for Aldi. Now I didn’t like the ‘pee’ language last year, being the Mary Whitehouse mother that I am. But this year is working better. Right in the nuts gag and, get this, Santa with his sleigh! Now you’re talking. We won’t say anything about the evil parsnip’s dodgy French accent. Is this a nod to Brexit? Well baby, it works for me.

Because let’s face it, brands are having a hard time moving away from the whole B word. Let’s hope we get greater creative spirit for Christmas this year. This year seems to have seen the standard of creative work go down. Not sure anyone knows how to write a radio ad anymore, that’s for sure.

Marketing Week names the Heathrow Bear ad as the top ad for Christmas. Not sure why Heathrow has to advertise, surely it’s just one of those places that attracts footfall. But who cares, not this copywriter and certainly not gen pop. It’s been voted the best Christmas advert this year. The proposition is one that’s really clear from where I’m sitting – oh to be the copywriter working on that brief. Lovely jubbly.

The good news is, this year’s sackful of creative adverts seem less divisive that the other stuff that’s whirling around this winter. So here’s to a peaceful Christmas and let’s hope a very happy new year.

International Women’s Day 2018

This year, I’ve resolved to up my networking and do more good stuff. As a creative copywriter, I think it’s important to find inspiration where you can. And while we might spend most of our lives in the digital space these days, real life is quite good too.

So, after booking onto a special networking event in celebration of International Women’s Day, I took a train to Shoreditch to catch up with She’s Back at Mother London. To be honest, I’d have gone to listen to people talk about paint drying, just to get my foot in the door of this brilliant building.

I’ve walked down Redchurch Street so many times and wondered what gems lay behind the Mother London doors of the illustrious Biscuit Building. The secret buttons that buzz to let you in through those darkened windows of an East End creative power house.

To finally be walking through those double doors was an inspiration in itself for me. I feel like I could be breaking a code of uncoolness here in saying it, but I’m going for it anyway. Mother was just as trend-setting as I’d imagined.

The walls had original artworks by the likes of Peter Blake and props adorned the entrance hall, all used in actual ads for the likes of brands such as IKEA. Staff are treated to free lunches every, single day. Not just on the Friday before pay day. They also get the day after Mother’s Day off as paid holiday. It ties in with their brand values and is frankly, an unexpected, quirky add-on. This is employee engagement with effortless ease.

If only all employers could be so forward thinking. Of the three members of staff whom we met, all three were working flexibly. Two had kids and were women, one did not and was a man, proving again that it’s not just mothers who want flexible working. Tom happens to be an ex-colleague of mine, so this was an added bonus; he uses his days off consulting with other start-up projects. Yes, I was suitably jealous and impressed by this fact, all at the same time.

Does your brand walk the talk? 

Mother London doesn’t just look good, it acts good. And as we all know, brands can often say they’re something without actually walking the talk. It’s just not good marketing. So it’s encouraging to see that the ‘world’s leading independent creative network’ as they call themselves, really are showing us all how it’s done. They’ve nailed the art of self-promotion, that’s for sure. And their work is utterly brilliant.

Right, I’ve got back up now, just had a little swoon there for a minute.

Back to the event. As a creative copywriter and brand strategist who has been working with lots of recruitment and business-to-business brands recently, I was here to get to know She’s Back, an organisation promoting women in business, and, specifically, one that’s aimed at helping women returners get back in the professional saddle. I also wanted to network and meet likeminded individuals and find inspiration to bring to my work.

Networking is work with value – unlike email 

It’s true that networking events aren’t every copywriter’s slice of shortbread, but I’m a firm believer that if you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, you’ll get something out of it.

Here are my main take outs:

  1. It’s karma not kickbacks

Networking might feel painful at the outset, particularly for anti-social copywriters, but once you start, it can actually be very rewarding in unexpected ways.

  1. Reframe your thinking

Don’t ask, what can these people do for me, but rather, how can I help these people? If a barrier is that people will just pick your brains, try to turn that around. For example, ask what younger, more junior people can do for you?

  1. Say less, say it slowly

Good presentation is just like good copywriting. If you use fewer words and take lots of breaths – full points are your friend – you’ll have more impact than if you say loads and don’t filter your message.

It was a great day but a little deflating to see that there are lots of women out there simply oozing with unfulfilled talent. WHY?

We’ve got International Women’s Day, so why haven’t we got jobs for the (senior) girls?

I’m lucky to be a freelance copywriter with lots of lovely clients, but until brands realise there’s massive potential in hiring senior professional women – women who have had their children and who want their next career break, possibly flexibly, possibly not – they’ll never quite be on the same level as the Mother Londons of this world.

Let’s face it, we might all be in the gutter together, but there are still only a few of us who are looking up at the stars.