The Linguist

The Linguist 55,5

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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with an interest in international business and different cultures, he had struck lucky. The job involved monthly trips to Paris to brief the team there, reporting to personnel at all levels. This interaction between staff operating in different countries and different languages (mainly French and English) became a hallmark of Riley's career – and one that is common in the industry. When Riley went to Ireland to work for Irish Distillers, known for Jameson Whiskey, in 1997, he found a polyglot team of both marketing and sales people. "One of the reasons languages are so desirable is the cultural part – the fact that if you studied a language in depth, you have been exposed to a different culture, a different way of looking at things, different ways of solving problems," he explains. "In marketing, this is incredibly important, because you are trying to put yourself in the shoes of the person: what will influence them? Whether it's a brand or an idea. I've found that a lot of linguists are open to alternative ways of looking at things. Even if you can't speak all of the languages, you have the right mindset to understand how people might react to what you are promoting." Having a multilingual workforce produces a creative melting pot in which ideas can flourish, Riley adds. Since his career began, many smaller companies have been bought by global conglomerates, and the top three alcoholic drinks manufacturers now have a global market share of nearly 40%. Their reach is such that their marketing and sales strategies have to straddle continents – and 22 The Linguist Vol/55 No/5 2016 FEATURES Why language skills are crucial to the drinks industry W hen Coca-Cola ran a 60-second multilingual commercial at the Super Bowl 2013, it was welcomed and condemned in equal measure for its use of nine languages. Watched by more than 111 million viewers, the American football league's championship match offered one of the nation's most high-profile advertising slots, at a cost US$4 million for 30 seconds. Some wanted to know why the all-American song America The Beautiful had been sung in languages other than English, including Spanish, Tagalog, Hindi and Arabic. Others praised Coke for celebrating the country's diversity. The more cynical marvelled at the marketing feat, as the short film trended on Twitter and was covered by media on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the company wasn't merely seeking controversy; it was speaking directly to one of the most important consumer groups for the global drinks industry: multicultural young 'millennials'. One commentator pointed out that Coke could have used native languages, such as Navajo and Cherokee, to honour multilingual America, missing the point that the company was reaching out to its large customer base of migrant consumers. "Multicultural consumers are transforming the US mainstream," said Eva Gonzalez, an Executive Director of the consumer insights organisation Nielsen. In fact, they represent the fastest-growing segment of the US economy, with Hispanic consumers leading growth of the country's most popular packaged goods, including soft drinks, beer, wine and coffee. "This consumer segment represents a critically important and growing opportunity," said Ralph Rijks, Heineken USA's Senior Vice President, adding that it has been a major factor in the company's global success. And the importance of hispanic consumers isn't limited to the US; the Latin American and Spanish markets are big business for the drinks industry globally. Heineken's latest campaign, 'There's More Behind the Star' (referring to the company's iconic red star), features Puerto Rican actor Benicio Del Toro, and will run in English and Spanish in 70 markets around the world in 2016-2017. Multilingual staff This clearly identified demographic of 'ambicultural' consumers forms part of a widespread marketing strategy in the 21st century. But the need for multilingual staff with cross-cultural awareness has long been a reality in the drinks industry. "On the commercial side, speaking another language tends to be one of the requirements," says Martin Riley, who was Chief Marketing Officer at Pernod Ricard until his retirement last year. "In marketing, a second or even a third language is encouraged." Riley's own 37-year career in the industry was made possible only due to his knowledge of languages. Sandeman Port were looking for staff with French and German just as his degree in those languages was coming to an end. Following a successful application, he soon realised that, as a young graduate A glass half full

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