Ikea’s Clever Arabic Translation or Lazy Error?

IKEA’s Bahrain store just made social media and mainstream news headlines with a translation that could be either very clever or very lazy – depending upon whether it was an intentional marketing ploy or simply a lazy translation error.

The Scandinavian furniture firm placed a new advert on their Bahrain storefront that read “Create your perfect night’s sleep” in English.

However, the Arabic translation, written under the English-language version stated “The same as written, but in Arabic”!

Local people who noticed the sign soon took to social media to share the Swedish multinational’s mistranslation with it eventually generating news coverage.

IKEA soon after updated the advert, but they continued the mystery as to whether it was an intentional marketing ploy or accidental error, by simply crossing out the mistranslation and replacing it with “This is what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. Enjoy your sleep” in Arabic.

IKEA’s speedy and witty response showed a self-deprecating humour that was appreciated by those who shared the updates on social media sites with many suggesting it was a very clever marketing tactic designed to generate a buzz about the store.

Either way it certainly seemed to work.

Local people were seen driving by the store just to get a glimpse at the ad and check if the posts on social media sites were accurate.

However, according to an article online, there are those in the marketing sector that believe it was an accidental translation error that was quickly covered up with a humorous response designed to suggest it was actually intentional from the outset.

The article quoted Sneha Sharma, senior social media manager and conceptual creative at agency Memac Ogilvy Bahrain, who have worked with IKEA in the past, as saying she believed it was “an honest mistake” that may have used “non-Arabic speakers” to finalise and print the advert.

Whether it was intentional or not, the IKEA advert makes an effective point about English to Arabic translations, showing why native-speaking translators are essential for accuracy and consistency.

At Creative Word, we are experts in English to Arabic translations with offices in London and Dubai, so wherever you are based, we can help ensure your translation project doesn’t make you lose any sleep!

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