I was at the Linate airport in Milan, yesterday. Back to London. Getting prepared for Easyjet’s boarding process (Easyjet starts boarding two hours before the scheduled time; then they let you endlessly wait somewhere in a line between the gate and the airplane). I was looking at my Twitter timeline. A tweet promoted by Mobike caught my attention. The tweet was about the new public dockless bike service Mobile is launching in Italy, specifically in Milan and Florence. I believe they are running similar pilots in the UK. London and Manchester.
Cool idea, good business model. Green stuff. Approved by hipsters.
But something was wrong.
There was a visible problem with the tweet. It was not properly localised. Actually it was localized in an interesting neo-language, born from the ashes of Chinese, English and Italian. Italian was not proper Italian – content was grammatically incorrect. I found it disturbing, exactly as it happens when you discover some content being translated with free tools like google translator. But here we are not talking about a poor content marketer flying solo; this is a company, coming from China and backed by Venture Capitals and valued today more than $1 billion, as this article by Forbes explains.
Have a look. English and Chinese. But the service is in Florence. What about Italian? Is this a service for international tourists only? Also, Italian is very poorly from translated English: it’s not bilioni, we say miliardi. Tonnelate is wrongly spelled. And I could go ahead. But I won’t. As you can expect, lots of ironic and negative comments from users. I took a few screenshots, posted a tweet and a post on Instagram, explaining what went wrong. No responses so far.
— Giuseppe Caltabiano (@giusec) September 17, 2017
This is a great example of what to avoid, going global with content. It might be just a pilot, but… how much would it cost to hire a local Italian writer?