Monday, September 11, 2006

Jakarta is such a fun place to live that I just can't stop enjoying living here. One of the things that often makes ma laugh is use of English language in advertising. In Jakarta you can often see a big advertisement in a major newspaper written in English language and full of grammar and spelling mistakes.

I'm not a native English speaker, thus my English is not perfect either, but in my professional work such as writing project reports I actually try hard to use proper grammar and try to make sure there are no basic spelling mistakes in the text. I think in advertising industry much stricter rules should apply and in my opinion companies should verify content of the advertisement with professional English copywriters before releasing an advertisement for print. Unfortunately this is rarely the case and often results in extremely ridiculous advertisements – actually highly embarrassing to the advertiser as many Indonesians speak good English.

I also have to mention about advertisements with content mixed between English and Indonesian language which often results in extremely hilarious advertisements. The most disturbing example of such poor advertising practice you can observe at Kelapa Gading area, just next to McDonalds: As you can see on this huge banner PT. Venus Ceramica Indonesia have a special Lebaran promotion which is "Free 500kg Semen"! Myself I'm very curious how they organise such massive supply of semen as I think it requires thousands of men to produce this huge amount. Maybe it has something to do with the number of "executive clubs" and "massage places" in the nearby area or maybe something to do with the Mona Lisa herself? You'll probably have to ask the advertiser.

Actually, the name of the advertised product "Monalisa Tiles" has some interesting language background. The product name sounds like the tiles are produced somewhere in Europe and definitely must be a very exclusive masterpice produced by Italian artists ... right? Well, not really. The tiles are actually produced in China by entirely Chinese company! Gosh, I think I was wrong all my life as apparently Mona Lisa comes from China, not Florence. I should also start to pronounce it correctly as I think it should be Mo-Na-Li-Xa, of Chinese painting Si-Fu (master) Da-Win-Ci.

Note: Indonesian word "semen" means "cement" in English, "free" is not an Indonesian word.

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