Interesting comments by Steve Cropley in Autocar magazine (4th July 2012) on Peugeot’s latest TV advertising campaign for the new Peugeot 208. ‘Their ‘Let Your Body Drive’ campaign for the car - which implies that it’s somehow desirable to remove one’s brain from the equation if one is to enjoy driving - sets a new record in risibleness (sic)..I’m prepared to accept that the thing might work better in French, if it’s a translation. But if this is original work in English, it is truly terrible.’
I think Steve is a bit scathing. Of course we are often treated to excellent advertising in this country, so he may have a good point. It does seem that the campaign was developed simultaneously for all markets and simply translated (unless the English came first, which is possible).
Whether ‘Let your body drive’ is the best rendition of ‘Votre corps reprend le pouvoir’ or ‘Laissez conduire votre corps’ (the same slogan in French language versions) is open to debate. From a cultural standpoint I think Steve is correct that the whole concept might work better in French and in more Latin environments as a whole.
Translation is much more complicated a task than it first seems, and it is not simply a matter of getting the words right. One needs to ask oneself if it works, and if the target audience will understand it.