The Pattern-finding Problem-solver
DOES LOCALIZATION LIMIT THE IMAGINATION?
There was a time not far back when localization became trendy. For the user, localization can be friendly and even amusing, to see an international brand trying to connect with and become the local person. Of late though, I’m starting to wonder, as a person living in Mumbai, one of the world’s largest cities, if we are losing out on international exposure, because we are repeatedly shown what we already are and know. I would love to see brands that represent their authentic place in the word, and not be local so we can expand our imaginations and improve our sensibilities of other cultures.
One example of localization is the way MTV evolved in India. In the 1990s, when MTV just started airing in India, we saw VJs from all over the world, playing international music. That expanded our view on what music is and what it could be. Listening to VJs with authentic knowledge of music also made people have strong feelings of total dislike or being smitten by some of those VJs. Today, MTV, shows local reality shows and sitcoms, totally losing its M, which probably stood for music? So MTV has been “localized,” and that brought an end to our growth and expansion of our minds to understand world music and fall in love with it.
I also see it in our cinemas, where we used to see more international films along with local ones, we now see fewer and fewer international film hoardings. It’s so disillusioning to know that some of the world’s best films totally escape our cinemas but we are being bombarded with more and more commercial Bollywood films all of the time.
When you walk into a McDonald’s in India, you are greeted with a “Namaste” and options to eat extra spicy masala burgers. Am I the only one missing that feeling of entering an international fast-food chain (if it’s American, it should feel American!) and not feeling like I’ve just entered an Air India aircraft, about to have the ultimate Indian meal?
There are many brands that say they are proud to be local, and that is thought of as being friendly and considerate, like HSBC. Sure, there are many mistakes that can be made if the local culture is not adhered to. But at the same time, for an urban person, living in a melting pot of a city, it’s about time that we had a window to the world. So bring on the authentic American cuisine, publicize great Iranian films, show us a new British way of banking, play for us the music of the world, so we can expand our minds and our imaginations.