Living in St. Paul, Minnesota I often run into new and unexpected things. One of the things that caught me off guard recently is seeing billboards in various languages as you drive around the different neighborhood. In an recent article I have read Mcdonald’s is taking some heat for making and displaying an billboard that I would say approaches making fun of the Hmong language or simply made with little or no coordination with anyone fluent in Hmong. Basically they didn’t include any spaces and had a bad translation which ended up being more of a jumble of words than type of advertisement. I don’t really care that much about how this ended up as an incoherent billboard, but how they decided to make one in Hmong. Maybe I do not get around St. Paul enough, but I never thought that there was high enough density of any group of people in any area to deem an advertisement in a different language.
I can understand why McDonalds would want to reach out to another group of people to convince them to eat their food. What I do not get is why they would need to print the sign up in the Hmong language without consulting someone well versed in the language. Not only do they successfully alienate English speakers, they also have alienated the audience they are seeking.
What do you think on the matter? Should large businesses try to advertise in multiple languages even if they don’t themselves have a grasp of the language or the area? Does someplace like McDonalds need to have text on their billboards or would Golden Arches and a picture of food do?