Google marks first major Chinese product launch in 8 years with Translate app campaign

Seven months after reintroducing its Translate mobile apps to China following a seven-year boycott, Google has launched a new campaign to promote the service among Chinese youths.

The 30-second ad, created by BBH China, shows Chinese-American rapper MC Jin discovering the happening areas in Shanghai and Wuzhen by capturing and translating English words he sees and hears along the way – using the mobile app’s augmented reality feature Words Lens.

Translations were filmed live on set via the AR and artificial intelligence feature without having to use any special effects in post-production, the agency said. 

The app translates 100 languages and allows users to use the conversation mode to translate conversations without having to pre-record.

The campaign marks Google’s biggest consumer product launch in China since 2010, when the tech giant exited the market due to censorship of its search results. 

Today many of its services are still censored in the country; and while Google Translate has been available on desktop for the past eight years, more than half of China’s 1.4 billion population use the internet on their mobile phones, thereby putting Google at a significant disadvantage when reaching Chinese consumers.

Speaking about the campaign, BBH China executive creative director Kelly Pon added: Authenticity is very important to us. We wanted to feature an existing user of Google Translate and found MC Jin to be an advocate.

“In the film, MC Jin was translating words in his daily life in the most authentic and fun way. We hope that people will be inspired to discover the world around them with the app. It was also paramount that everything was captured in-camera to showcase how the AI works. That in itself was a challenge. Filming with AI — a medium that is constantly learning — is an interesting obstacle to overcome during a shoot.”


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