There’s an interesting story reprinted in the Daily Herald about how American entertainment companies will change the design of their cartoon/comic characters in foreign markets for greater marketing appeal. The process is called “transcreation.” Some of the examples they cited were Peter Parker who, in the Indian market, gained his spider-man powers through a “mysterious yogi,” or Mickey Mouse characters who were adapted to be “cuties” – drawn with smaller eyes, button noses and Hello Kitty like mouths. This cutie line is huge in China and Japan.
Most media companies acknowledge the need to localize their fare. While there’s still a global audience for “Tom and Jerry” reruns and Hollywood blockbusters, American imports don’t top the TV ratings in most non-English-speaking markets. Transcreation nods to that need for local relevance.
“There are very few things that work everywhere,” says Orion Ross, a vice president of creative at Time Warner’s Turner Networks in Asia. “Places with strong national identities, like Japan and India, need adaptation and change.”
One global cartoon feature is mentioned that has refused to change – Peanuts. The Schulz family has forbid any changes to the characters.