Multilingual Digital Campaigns

Three in-depth case studies with screenshots, videos and action plans. Enjoy!

At Positive Partnerships, we love it when a multilingual digital marketing plan comes together. So we’ve deconstructed 3 of the best campaigns we’ve come across, all in different sectors with transferable learnings.

There are three distinct campaign types: a launch campaign, a market penetration plan and a sales strategy.

In each case the “glue” providing cohesion is top-notch multilingual online content. We hope you find these detailed case studies of Baglioni Hotels, Innocent Drinks and Costa Activa instructive. And contact us if we can help!

Case Study 1. Multilingual Digital Launch – Baglioni Hotels (Roman Penthouse)

When Baglioni Hotels launched the Roman Penthouse suite at Regina Hotel Baglioni in Rome, they needed a “wow” campaign to do justice to the craftsmanship behind the $18,000/night suite with stunning views over the Eternal City.

This case study gives a blow-by-blow account of a campaign that punched well above its weight.



The suite took years of development. Having personally seen it, I can confirm that it’s a superlative product.

The insight of the Baglioni Hotels marketing team was that social media is innately “noisy” so there is no point in shouting even louder, especially for an ultra-deluxe product. They instead harnessed the power of intrigue in a teasing roll-out extending the campaign’s duration – distinct from the “big bang” way in which many brands use social media.

Since they were also aiming for a global audience, the campaign needed to transcend cultures. But how do you elicit the same connection in markets as diverse as Russia, the Gulf, the USA and China?

Baglioni Hotels chose their primary medium: videos based on visual cues and inspiring music. An experiential campaign was crafted with online video at its heart to engender a sense of wonder, curiosity and relaxation.


Patience was key: choosing to gradually build anticipation across a series of videos rather than a one hit wonder.

They took the audience on a journey to mirror the painstaking journey taken in developing the suite, which gave the opportunity to convey its full range of features. And all the while they created microsites, collected emails and shared updates on the Baglioni Hotels social media channels and blogs like their own influential Italian Talks channel.

The “Upgrade your idea of…” videos were translated into English, Chinese, Russian and Arabic, posted on YouTube and a special microsite. Gaps were deliberately left unfilled to create curiosity. The whole storyline came together only when the final piece of the jigsaw was in place. All videos are shown below, with the specific rationale behind each:

(i) Wonder: a teaser video to introduce the conceptual pre-project stage; a woman expresses wonder through only her eyes and facial expressions. This conveys mystery, whets the appetite and plants questions to build a foundation.


(ii) The Project: this second teaser is more concrete in sharing the story of project’s design, from the initial sketches to the first drafts, drawings and renderings; again you sense there is much more to come.


(iii) Perfection: this video continues the journey to highlight the craftsmanship behind the project, emphasising the group’s Italian heritage. Now the viewer is being taken tantalisingly closer to the end product…


(iv) The View: this final video gives the viewer a private tour to discover the suite which is finally complete. The woman from the first video is brought back to give the entire series coherence. It’s the big “reveal”!


This campaign shows remarkable discipline in allowing the story to build over months, piece by piece. A website at with a countdown was launched in tandem to heighten anticipation.

Global distribution was made easier by the fact that the videos elicit universal human feelings, supported by images and music rather than words. The soundtrack and production values impeccably mirror the suite’s positioning.

The “Upgrade your idea…” campaign was distributed exclusively online, targeting the Baglioni Hotels brand’s primary growth markets of USA, Russia, the Arabian Gulf and China. The videos garnered several hundred thousand page views and press coverage was huge, with features in countless prestigious publications like Luxury Travel Magazine, The Telegraph, Harpers Bazaar, A Luxury Travel Blog, Smart Brief and Luxury Daily to name but a few.


More than 20 million impressions were gained via Facebook and Google #1 positions quickly obtained for several key terms. Twitter reach extended to millions of eyeballs. Bookings followed within days of the suite’s launch.

Guido Polito, CEO of Baglioni Hotels, mobilised the entire organisation around this campaign: “I am proud of the significant effort that has been made to find innovative communication solutions for the launch of this product, for which substantial investments have been allocated not only in terms of resources but also of ideas”.

Leading this kind of initiative from the top is a key success factor. The Roman Penthouse launch campaign shows how innovation with smart execution trumps budget in today’s new media environment. The campaign won “Best Social Media Marketing” prize in the Hotel Chain category at the Hospitality Social Awards 2014.


This campaign also shows how patience pays: by spreading a global launch over time you buy time to target various regions and market segments, creating an international crescendo effect on social media to extend impact.

Different online networks were emphasised at different stages to broaden reach. The campaign remains “evergreen” and the return builds over months and years – not just minutes like the typical social media timeframe.

A creative extension was to give a group of high-profile bloggers a tour of the Roman Penthouse as part of a bespoke luxury tour of locations from the Oscar-winning Great Beauty movie, set in Rome and featuring perspectives similar to the Roman Penthouse.  This follow-up also generated massive exposure while reinforcing the suite’s positioning.



This and other follow-up activity was built to hang off the hook left by the assets of the launch campaign.

It is sometimes better to have a series of impacts – long-lasting, extended ripples in a pond – instead of aiming just to make a big splash that is soon forgotten. And the proof is in the pudding: the Roman Penthouse has been a storming success achieving great feedback from guests and visitors. Explore the Roman Penthouse here:

Disclosure: Positive Partnerships works with Baglioni Hotels in their international growth plan primarily via Italian Talks.

Case Study 2. Multilingual Digital Market Penetration – Innocent Drinks

Innocent Drinks has always been famous in the UK market for great smoothies and an ethical approach to business.

The company was founded by Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright – three friends who started by setting up a stall after spending £500 on fruit. It is run out of Fruit Towers in London and gives 10% of its profits to charity.


This case study covers Innocent’s expansion into Europe between 2011 and 2014: from a standing start, they became the continent’s leading smoothie brand by striking a delicate balance between “global” and “local”.

In 2011 the company had 75% UK market share and decided to target the European Union as the next stage of its growth. The founders say they kicked this off opportunistically: they were approached by a third party to sell their product in Paris and it flew off the shelves; so they decided to test the water in France and then other markets.

After a process of trial and error, a winning formula was developed which we’ll examine. The speed with which they gained traction in a wide range of markets is striking. Below we highlight some key success factors.


According to co-founder Adam Balon, the Innocent European strategy combines communication of the core Innocent values in all markets with the presence of local teams who have knowledge of each market’s quirks. The local element and an ability to respond rapidly to market feedback were essential to success.

For example, Innocent learned that in Austria they’d need to go direct to supermarkets earlier than usual and adapted their strategy to succeed.  In France, they initially mistranslated their marketing message by inadvertently advertising “condom-free” fruit drinks (reinforcing the importance of choosing the right translation agency).

So one of the keys to Innocent’s success is how quickly they learned and adjusted course. This sensitivity – not just to the language of different markets but also their underlying culture – is apparent when you visit the Innocent Drinks website today which in our view offers a best practice example of a multilingual website.


The first thing you notice is that no less than 15 flags appear on the site footer. They are so passionate about localisation that they do so by country, not just by language: with different websites for English speaking countries – for example, Ireland has its own page separate from the UK “home” site, as does Australia (more on the latter below).

Since Innocent has local teams in each country, content is finely targeted and we are referring here to tone and style too. It also means that online and offline marketing initiatives are authentic and human (a key Innocent identifier).

While the look and feel of each country website is similar, there are subtle differences in the imagery and the way information is presented.  For example check out the brand’s Swedish homepage:


And notice how it differs from Innocent Finland:


…and Innocent Denmark:


“Scandinavia” might be considered homogenous by some brands but not by Innocent. The differences relate not just to the product range but also in the specific messages/imagery shown and in structure – even the site navigation varies.

Messaging is tailored to the group’s evolution in each market and how far they are along the track.

This is something worth emphasising: if specific markets are important, do not simply communicate in one voice and language or rely on generic translations. You must go deeper and think about myriad other factors.

For example, we would not be surprised if Innocent have researched specific images in focus groups in each market to select the right ones for each.  Imagery is a key aspect of localisation that is almost always underestimated.

Real localisation is also apparent as you enter specific pages on each country website.  For example, the German-speaking websites have a page dedicated to grassy delivery vans to reflect specific concerns in that market:

Innocent_German_CarsThe above is not an isolated example. Similar opportunities to engage with a specific market’s audience are grasped for other markets with custom content created. So even if the website homepages appear similar at first glance the localisation runs deep. We also like how their Belgian page begins with a language selection landing page:

Innocent_BelgiumImportantly, Innocent also maintain separate Twitter accounts for each country with localised content.  For example notice the subtle difference between similar tweets posted recently on Innocent UK’s Twitter feed:


…versus a similar campaign being run by Innocent Ireland on Twitter.


And then see how the same campaign is further customised by Innocent in France with the Tour Eiffel in the background. The messages coming from tweets are authentic and local, right down to subtle differences in language, tone, hashtags and imagery, even while the values transmitted are consistent.

This type of social media activity has higher engagement than the typical bland messages of many brands. Note that even the description under each Twitter handle is properly localised and not merely translated.

Translation of a source market’s messages is not enough because these may already be replete with a cultural code or tone of voice that will literally get lost in translation. Innocent have clearly given this and other subtle aspects of localisation considerable thought, as the examples above illustrate.

Innocent_AustraliaHumour is another key element of the Innocent brand positioning which we all know doesn’t translate easily.  The picture above is what happens when you click down under the Australian flag on the site’s homepage : )

And so Innocent’s rather English humour centric blog is only linked to from their UK pages and local staff in individual markets are empowered to post their own blog content so that cultural norms are respected. Check out this quirky range of banana-animal photos from their German blog:

Banana_Dog_GermanyBanana_Dolphins_GermanyThese subtleties are only possible with local staff in-market or translators in the native language who have the know-how to challenge the client when something doesn’t work in the target language or to propose something better.

Last but not least, Innocent even localise their support of charities. The ethical aspect of their brand is a key component but instead of taking the lazy route of supporting a big-name global cause, Innocent has opted for a more subtle two-pronged approach: there is the corporate Innocent Foundation which fights world hunger, complemented by local initiatives in each market with their own specific landing pages and microsites.

For example in France they work with les petits freres des Pauvres and a range of French corporate partners like SNCF and Phildar. This approach is mirrored in other markets and creates more intimacy with consumers.

For Innocent Drinks authenticity comes first, whatever your language.


And it is clear that Innocent’s Europe-wide success has not occurred by accident. Some final thoughts from Adrien Deydier, Innocent’s Digital and Community Manager in France about their international strategy:

“Each country has its own editorial standards – important since we need to adapt our sense of humour for each audience. We do however adhere to a common charter in fine-tuning our content so that it fits the Innocent ethos…The digital teams in the various countries call each other regularly (at least monthly) to exchange ideas. This allows us to duplicate successful projects…Our credo at Innocent is “If you’re 70% sure then just go for it!”.

Full interview (French):

Learn more about Innocent’s European expansion strategy from co-founder Adam Balon.

Case Study 3. Multilingual Digital Sales Strategy – Costa Activa

Expansion is more often about growth than survival. But if all around you is going pear-shaped, can an effective localisation and market targeting strategy save the day? This inspiring case history from Spain in which a pair of entrepreneurs bet their business on internationalisation will give you food for thought.

It is the story of a company founded at the worst possible time – a Spanish real estate agency launched just before a major downturn. And how that company managed not just to survive but thrive under this unpromising scenario.


In the late noughties, Ramon Fernandez, Sebastian Foglia and Agustín Ramirez Founders of Costa Activa in beautiful Finestrat on the Costa Blanca, were facing a huge dilemma.

With the Spanish property market falling off a cliff and “traditional” buyers disappearing fast, they had to refocus their young business (founded in 2007) to survive. They somehow needed to leverage international expansion not just as a growth strategy but as a survival plan. Both had young families and the stakes could not have been higher.

Fast forward to 2015 after the worst Spanish economic crisis in living memory: Costa Activa has now achieved a leadership position as the premier internationally-focused real estate network for Spain’s coastal regions.

Costa_Activa_DescubraThey are seen as a role model of outward-looking growth within the Spanish property sector. And they achieved all this with limited resources, mainly thanks to a global multilingual sales and online strategy executed with considerable flair.

Costa Activa offers a case study of successful localisation, not just for their website (impressive as it is having been translated into 17 languages) but their entire business ethos.


Back in 2008/9, as property prices collapsed in Spain due to oversupply and a global financial crisis, the future looked bleak. So how did they transform their business to target new markets and build a global client base?

The usual Spanish property buyers from northern Europe were scarcer as horror stories of greedy developers, overcapacity, unethical agents and corrupt administrators proliferated. Nobody was buying and there was too much unsold stock. Banks had repossessed large developments (some unfinished) and were selling at distressed values.

Sebastian, Ramon and Agustin knew that they would need to radically change tack, targeting totally new markets and a different sort of buyer. Well ahead of their competitors, Costa Activa’s Russian vision was born…


This opportunity emerged out of market analysis, business acumen and observation: neither Costa Activa founder had prior experience of Russia. As Ramon Fernandez states: “We decided to leave our comfort zone representing traditional markets and developed a planned strategy to conquer new emerging markets…”

This observation in itself contains a lesson: international growth always involves risk and a leap out of your comfort zone. Great preparation and execution help you manage that risk to your advantage.

Despite their limited experience in Russia, they noticed that Russians visiting Spain had a different mentality to the traditional Spanish property buyer. They asked tough questions but if you were able to present the right products in the correct way they were happy to make relatively fast decisions.


So Costa Activa chose to localise their marketing around this key market: microsites, sales material and agent extranets were all launched in Russian. But maybe the first and most important step was “offline”: they attended Moscow’s major property show to get their first foothold and followed up by establishing an agent network across Russia, cherry-picking the best locations. “Cherry-picking” is a key Costa Activa strategy, whether it comes to choosing markets, selecting products with developers and hiring staff to fit their international culture.

Today, Russian buyers account for nearly 10% of the Spanish property market and an even bigger share of the luxury segment that Costa Activa targets. In the Costa Blanca region, the proportion may be as high as 40%.

This was helped by being proactive: not only did they capture market share but they also helped others by promoting the value proposition of Spanish coastal property, where quality products have been on offer at bargain basement prices. This video gives more information on Costa Activa and how they are building their global network:


Costa Activa’s approach is based on a combination of in-market and online activity working in synergy: the power is in the combination. They translated all their offline and online collateral into Russian, established an agent network in the country and took on high-calibre Russian staff in both Spain and Russia.

The strategy was localised down to specific provinces. The founders do not speak Russian but learned about the market in depth and hired people to fill the gaps. They tirelessly visited Russia to become the prime mover in upscale Spanish property. The Russian experience also gave the company a solid foundation and template to execute elsewhere. So they followed a similar strategy in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany, China and the UAE.

The way in which Costa Activa has gone after these new markets vindicates a focused, committed approach. They put huge thought into selecting each market…”international” should never be considered a blanket strategy but rather a market-by-market targeted approach. This is similar to how Baglioni Hotels and Innocent Drinks operate.

Costa_Activa_HotlinesMultilingual hotlines (often with local numbers) are provided for support, to convert website browsers from all over the world into potential clients. Some companies passively translate a website without thinking about the follow-up and conversion, which often involves significantly more effort. Costa Activa acted from the start to avoid this trap.

The reinforcement of online activity with local activity and old-fashioned relationship building is a key factor that distinguishes all our globalisation success stories.

As Costa Activa grew in new markets, they listened to their clients and chose to broaden their product offering based on this feedback. So instead of focusing only on the Costa Blanca, they expanded to cover the entire Mediterranean coast and big cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia; as well as iconic destinations like Ibiza.

This provided their international clients with greater choice and reinforced Costa Activa’s competitive advantage.

And to press home this advantage, they made sure to translate their property search tool into languages like Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish too: countries where conventional wisdom tells you that much of the population consumes web content in English, but where consumers naturally prefer searching for information in their own language.


Interestingly, Costa Activa even use localisation to expand their business partnerships with developers – for example, translating their website into Catalan to target developers in the region in and around Barcelona.

Costa_Activa_CatalanThe final piece of the jigsaw has already been mentioned and may be the most critical: Costa Activa have a multinational, multilingual team focused on their key markets, both at HQ and out in the field.

Costa_Activa_TeamIn summary, Costa Activa turned the Spanish property crisis into an opportunity: by stepping out of their comfort zone, they’ve created an international brand that gives them a diversified and resilient long-term business.

And they’ve applied global thinking to everything they do. We could provide more examples of this mindset: the way they have teams providing web collateral and support in Latin America, an agency in London (us!) helping them with strategy and people on the ground in China offering client support and partners in the Arab Gulf.

But the key message is this: if a dynamic company in Spain was able to do all this even in the midst of a major crisis, what excuse does your organisation have for not taking those first steps to internationalise your business?

Connect with Ramon Fernandez on Linked In:

Contact Costa Activa:

Disclosure: Positive Partnerships has collaborated with Costa Activa in their international growth strategy.

Fast learning, adaptability, resourcefulness, local teams and great multilingual online content – these are some of the key factors common to the Baglioni Hotels, Innocent Drinks and Costa Activa success stories.

If you want similar results to the examples above then contact us.

Image credit: 10ch via Flickr.

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