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Our April 2021 Event. Marco Airoldi and Nicola Calabrese: A collective approach to transcreation

On Friday 30th April, we gathered to listen to our two guest speakers, Marco Airoldi and Nicola Calabrese. They shared with us their collective approach to transcreation and how they apply it through a case study. After a lively Q&A session, structured networking and great conversations followed. 

Host Gabriella Ferenczi kicked off the event by welcoming the attendees and introducing our initiative, as well as the speakers of the month, Marco and Nicola.

Marco Airoldi and Nicola Calabrese are two Italian linguists and creative language professionals. Together they founded Comunico and Undertow to help brands reach their international audiences and engage them across different languages. On Friday evening, they tuned in from Barcelona – where they are currently based – and presented the collective approach to transcreation they developed. 

Nicola was the first to take the floor and gave us a definition of transcreation. Transcreation is the merger of two terms, translation and creation, and it’s “a creative way of adapting marketing content, which focuses on evoking the same reaction as the source text”.

He then explained how the traditional process usually works when it comes to marketing translation and transcreation, and proceeded to introduce the approach he and Marco developed.  

They call it the Creative Loop and what makes it different is that, rather than working in isolation, copywriters work together, collaborating with one another and building on each other’s ideas. Both professionals are equal and own the final result of the work, and everything in this loop is based on dialogue and radical candour. 

What are the benefits? 

  • Reduced admin, because the project manager is not involved in every step of the process and needs to assign the copy to a contact person only
  • Synergy between copywriters working on the same level 
  • Shorter timeline, because there is no time wastage between each step 
  • Scalability and possibility to share the workload and make it more manageable
  • Achieving of generally better results 

“Having a second pair of eye and a second opinion right away makes it easier to see if something doesn’t click”

Marco then proceeded to explain the process behind the adaptation of a headline they had worked on. 

Getting a glimpse of the behind the scenes and of how they work together was really interesting. It’s fascinating to see the different steps of the creative process, and how the final solutions gradually start to take shape.

At the end of the practical demonstration, Marco stated that probably none of this would come to light if they were working on their own or in isolation.

“The excellent quality of the solutions comes from the process of refining and bouncing the idea back and forth. And building on each other ideas. […] Sometimes we come up with a solution, but then get stuck and cannot push it further. So, we need to step away and have someone else to come in and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes.”

Marco and Nicola also gave us some general considerations and useful takeaways for us language professionals. First of all, when setting up a business and trying to sell a service, we need to have a clear picture of what we are selling and find our niche. Once we’ve identified what we can do well, we need to push on that and sell ourselves as specialists of that field. 

In addition to that, we should avoid competing on price and, instead, sell our value. We have to explain to our clients that what we bring to the table is adding value to their business. If we manage to do so, some clients might not be responsive, but others will be grateful for the expertise we provide. And those are the clients that we should go after.

“You don’t want to find 1000 clients that pay £1, but 10 that pay £100”

To wrap up, they introduced us to Undertow, the second initiative they founded. Once they established that their method worked and that there was a demand for this service outside of Italy, Marco and Nicola exported the Comunico model to other markets. With Undertow, they allow other linguists to use their collaborative method and help brands communicate effectively with their audiences.

Marco and Nicola’s presentation received a very positive response from the audience who had many questions to ask. After the Q&A session, the dialogue continued in the breakout rooms and the evening was topped off with structured networking and great conversations.

About the speakers:

Nicola Calabrese and Marco Airoldi are two Italian linguists and creative language professionals, as well as the founders of Comunico and Undertow.

After several years working in marketing and production agencies in London, they launched these two initiatives to help brands reach their international audiences and engage them across different languages. 

Comunico is a small team of Italian linguists that specialises in marketing and advertising copy. Undertow is a boutique language service provider that helps brands communicate effectively with their audiences.

Thanks to Marco and Nicola for their insightful presentation and to all the language professionals who attended and actively contributed to this conversation, regardless of the time zone. The money we have raised goes to support Moorfields Eye Charity.

Stay tuned for our next event, which will be on the 21st of May! We’ll share the details soon. Until then, stay safe.


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