latino lingo

All things related to effective Hispanic marketing, Hispanic advertising and Hispanic public relations.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You'd think a global (and public) company would know better

With great anticipation I opened up an article from the Houston Business Journal on computer company Hewlett-Packard's new Hispanic marketing effort.

I say with anticipation as I remember chuckling at the HP ad that Marketing y Medios profiled in their column that ridicules bad language and grammar use. The ad (see picture) promotes HP's customer service line, and reads, "Garantia y soporte al cliente." They intended that to translate to "customer support and warranty" but the word "soporte" that is used actually means "tolerate" in Spanish and not "support" as they intended. So, in essence, HP is promoting its phone number that "tolerates calls from its customers." Ouch!

So, back to the article ... it mentions HP's new Spanish website that I eagerly click on. To my great disappointment, not only does HP continues to use the word "soporte" where they mean to say "support," it's also riddled with other grammatical errors.

I personally don't know if they are using a Hispanic agency or not or if they paid a translation service to translate their site to Spanish or something else.

I'm also puzzled by the banner that reads, "HP te da la bienvenida a nuestra comunidad" (HP welcomes you to our neighborhood) as if we Hispanics are outsiders that are now being welcomed into the HP community ... rather than HP acknowledging that we Hispanics are already a critical and growing part of that community.

Semantics, perhaps, but none the less I hope this marketing effort isn't about communicating that HP is inviting us into some "exclusive" club (do we get to know the secret handshake too?) but rather recognizing that we are a critical part of the market and they are offering products and services that appeal to us.

Then again, maybe I shouldn't complain since once I'm invited in, at least I know HP will "tolerate" ... I mean "support" me ...


  • At 1:36 PM , Anonymous Dana Judge said...

    Thanks so much for checking out our new web site and giving feedback. It’s comments from people like you that help us maintain the highest possible standards for communications, especially when it comes to the Hispanic community. This consumer program is new territory for us and we’ve been working with several agencies and employees throughout the US and Latin America to make sure the most appropriate language is used.

    We did a lot of research on translations and understand from this research that the use of “soporte técnico” is an established way of saying “technical support” in many of the countries from which Hispanics originate. Microsoft in Mexico, Chile, Argentina and El Salvador, as well as Cisco in Belize, Bolivia, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Spain, also use that terminology. We checked with the Mexico Consulate and the Consulate of Peru and they both confirmed that “soporte técnico” is the best translation for “technical support”. We also use “assitencia al cliente” in some of our materials to help convey the most appropriate message.

    Your input on translation, as well as your other comments on the web site, are incredibly valuable to us. Please keep checking the website as we develop more Hispanic programs over the coming months.

    Dana Judge
    Corporate PR/AR
    Corporate Marketing, Americas Region

  • At 6:32 PM , Blogger Latin Lingo said...

    Ms. Judge -- thank you for your comments. Glad to hear you are working with several agencies. Sounds like you did a lot of homework on the “soporte técnico." Yet, the fact the word "soporte" lends itself to some interpretation by many Hispanics demonstrates the need for using a more generic Spanish in messages to broad Hispanic populations. If I was on the planning team I would have recommended against using "soporte" just so there would be no confusion. You can't mischaracterize "asistencia al cliente" is my point. I am also glad to hear that you are also considering my other comments, especially in terms of the message of "welcoming us" to HP. BTW, since I happen to be of Colombian descent, please note there is no "u" in the word. I wish you the very best of luck. I applaud the efforts being made by HP and my intent - and purpose of this blog -- is to make a good start event better. (Especially since I personally own/use several HP products.) Thanks again for commenting.

  • At 12:26 PM , Anonymous Dana Judge said...

    Thrilled to hear that you own HP products! And again, thanks for all your comments so far. If you check back at our web site, you'll see we've made some changes, some of which were based on your feedback.

    Now it's my turn to apologize for the misspelling of Colombia. My Colombian colleagues would be horrified - as am I.

    Keep up the good work.



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