Writing in The Dark

NEPI Rockcastle

Creativity & Production

A good ad campaign usually involves a high level of teamwork. A designer, a copywriter, animators and artworkers – each with an expertise and usually with a level of understanding between all the parties. When it works well the balance between disciplines is a rewarding experience with a happy client at the end of the process. What happens though, when one of these elements is a wild card which risks upsetting the productive balancing act? 

Such a case happened to us recently when we gained a new overseas client in Romania. Briefed to develop an aspirational fashion-led campaign for Christmas, ordinarily this would be a straight-forward challenge. But how best to tackle the copywriting aspect? 

When it’s just a matter of direct translation then the solution is pretty easy – a good translator may be sufficient. But in this instance our client wanted us to come up with a more abstract, conceptual approach so the copy needed to lead the campaign. At this point it was vital to work with a creative partner that was wired into the culture, trends and even the humour of Romania. 

This collaborative ‘trans-creation’ approach involved our creative team working alongside a Romanian wordsmith which took us into uncharted territory. The combination of a British art director and a Romanian copywriter led us to a dramatic yet playful twist on traditional Romanian Christmas carols, with the headlines suddenly taking on a transformed meaning when overlaid on high-end fashion imagery. “We’re going carolling”, “Your star is rising” and “Oh what wonderful news” are as traditional to Romanians as “Away in a Manger” or “Come All Ye Faithful” are to us. But across cultural boundaries there’s a risk that as headlines they may fall flat, or be seen as crass, or in poor taste. 

But this is the moment when you are reliant on trust. Most of us could tell if a headline works in English. In Romanian, however we were totally in the dark. “Trust me this will work”, she assured us. So when we came to the moment of presenting the concept to the client, it really is a leap of blind faith. 

Thankfully our creative partner proved to be correct. After a heart-stopping pause while they took the whole campaign in, the whole room burst into life with enthusiastic appreciation of the campaign. 

The campaign is currently running across three Romanian cities. 

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