Work January 20, 2017

“It’s a big world. Go run it.” Asics.

By Living Word

Remember Tears For Fears’ 1985 hit “Everybody wants to run the world”? It has been said the re-release did more to encourage people to run than any other event of its time. That is, until 30 years later when ASICS came along.


Their “It’s a big world. Go run it” campaign, created by advertising agency 180 Amsterdam, was themed on runners from all four corners of the running world pushing their boundaries and coming together to reach the top of their game – and a mythical mountain.

Go run it

So 180 Amsterdam asked us to make it work in nine of the world’s most common languages – and it certainly got our translators limbering up!

They stretched their writing muscles and dug deep into their creative reserves to handle a range of straplines and marketing slogans that referred to either running, ASICS’ high-performance running shoes – or both.

It was a case of running hard, or fast, or long or even ‘natural’.

Some shoes were designed to be lighter, some offered greater protection. But all of them had to sound appealing in a variety of languages to the world’s running faithful.

And it really was worldwide – Western Europe, Russia, China, Korea and South America would all be exposed to this campaign, so the race was on.

As usual, our experienced translators were straight out of the starting blocks. But with straplines and slogans, one circuit of the track is never enough. They are always asked to go round again… and again.

Each translator provided a number of different options for each line, together with back translations and an explanation of the thinking behind it – the rationale.

For example our French translator gave two options for the campaign strapline. Option one: “Le monde est grand. Courez !” literally meaning “The world is big. Run!” and option two: “Courez ! Le monde est à vous.” or “Run! The world is yours”. Notes were also given explaining that on option one, “Run it” couldn’t be rendered in French, so it had to be simply “Run” and on option 2, the adaptation drifted away more from the original meaning, but it was shorter, easily memorable and more inspiring. Our client chose option one in the end, “Le monde est grand. Courez !”.

See the French adaptation here

Chinese proved a little more tricky as, again, direct translation didn’t work too well. So our translators had to be creative and also gave three possibilities. Option one: “Let’s run to feel the big world!” Option 2 was similar: “Feel the run, feel the big world.” But our client chose to run with option three: 领跑世界,探索无限 “Lead the world with running, explore the unlimited.”

Screen 1 Asics

The challenge for them wasn’t about speed, it was about coming up with options that were in keeping with the campaign’s tone and that were short, punchy and catchy.

Living Word also provided a variety of search terms for online use – all with the aim of making it easier for runners to find the right shoe to suit their individual running style: shoes for marathons, shoes for short distances, shoes for speed, trails, road etc..

Of course, some languages are naturally more wordy than others so maintaining brevity was sometimes an uphill battle. Some words just don’t translate easily in other languages, so there were hurdles on this course, too.

But our resourceful linguists crossed the finish line triumphantly and the options were passed to 180 Amsterdam so they could consider them and choose their preferred translations.

Some required minor tweaks, which our linguists helped with, and in a couple of cases the client opted to keep the main strapline in English. But the options were now there.

A multitude of athletes got this campaign moving – and our translations have helped keep it running.

“Being a creative agency with global clients, we are under significant pressure to produce excellent and creative language adaptations within tight deadlines. Living Word always have a ‘yes’ for any requests we may have, and are always within budget. We are happy to work with Living Word as I know we get quality in a timely manner.”