How to market an event in the Maldives

I have been tasked with designing the flyers and coming up with a “theme” for the competition. I didn’t initially understand what was meant by “theme”, so I tested the water by answering: “bananas”, only for my suspicions to be confirmed, “theme” wasn’t the intended word. It turns out “tag-line” or “snappy catchphrase”  would have been more appropriate, but my efforts to convey this lexical improvement fell flat as the people I was speaking to didn’t now understand what I was saying.

I’ve had problems like this before, one example being the local use of English idiom: for a bit of context, the conversation was about the fact that some people are going to be paid for some work they have done, albeit not a huge amount, but the fact they are being paid is a gesture to their efforts; the way this was expressed was: “All I’m saying is that they can have a cup of tea”. You what, mate?

Maybe not what I'm going for.

Maybe not what I’m going for.

Either way, there are a few challenges when marketing an event in a country where the native language is only spoken by 350,000 people and on this particular island they have a local dialect which the people from the north of the Maldives cannot understand at all. I decided not to try my hand at online Dhivehi translation engines as I wanted to avoid such bloopers as you see in the pictures of a menu. Bon Petite indeed.  I

Take that, nasty french hotelier

Take that, nasty french hotelier

myself am no stranger to poor menu translation, in a previous job in a hotel in France in 2012, I was so annoyed at how badly I was being treated during my work experience, that I volunteered to translate the menu into English in order to get my own back….

My computer skills were once again called into question as I not only had to design a poster, but I was also told to “design a logo for the Association”. Wow. So much responsibility and potential to make a real gaffe of that one. Or I could just have a massive laugh on Paint, say it was the work of local children, and design something horrific to be blazoned over all of the Rowing Association Maldives documents….. Equally as worrying was the fact they left me in charge of the tagline. Here are some ideas I’ve had so far:

  • Row0.2k (The race is only going to be 200m, pun on the popular rowing website Row2k), SupaRow (Supari is the name of those nuts which come in what looks like condom wrappers), EatSleepRow, EatPrayRow

Now it gets a bit Bob Geldof:

  • Row4Life, Row4Love, Love2Row, Rowing Will Save the Children

Back onto the snappy marketing brainstorming:

  • iRow WeRow, iLoveRowing, WhoRows?iRows

My Favourite:

  • James Day

None of these did anything for me, (they did but I wouldn’t be allowed to help anymore if I chose one of them), so I took an executive decision to not have a tagline because I’m gonna let the rowing do the talkin. I just went for the “Addu City Festival of Rowing”, which should do the trick.

Don't think I would get away with this one

Not sure Ibrahim’s will make the final cut.


Much better.


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