Would you translate this bank's slogan for free?

Once again, an Israeli bank demonstrates that it is unwilling to pay a dime to have its advertising – in this case its slogan – translated professionally.

One of my fave agencies called me and asked me to translate an ad for Bank Leumi, slated to be published in the J. Post. This type of job is always a rush job.
I said yes, because I happened to be in-between two other things and could afford to take time out for a 150-word ad.
However, I noticed that the ad ended with a slogan. I told the girl at the agency that I'd translate the ad, but not the slogan. Perhaps the big bank has already had its slogan translated into English (and Russian, and perhaps other languages), in which case it would be silly to re-invent the wheel. On the other hand, if inventing the wheel is called for, it costs money. I am a professional translator and copywriter, I don't create English versions of Hebrew slogans for free. That is, not anymore I don't.

The girl said other translators do it… why, only the other day someone translated a Bezeq ad for them, slogan and all, and didn't make a fuss about it…
I said, well I don't. On principle.
The client (the J. Post? Bank Leumi? Both?) said, that's the way we always do it.
I said, fine, but I don't. On principle.

I sent off the translated ad, minus slogan, to the agency, and apologized for causing them this headache. They now have to find some sucker who will, at a moment's notice, translate the slogan for peanuts. It might turn out good. It might turn out awful. Neither the Post nor Leumi seem to care.


To be fair, I must admit that in the past, in similar situations, I used to translate the slogan, with or without complaining about it being unfair. Why? Because I could. I suppose it was vanity: it was a challenge, and I got a kick out of being able to quickly think up good copy, natural-sounding English versions of Hebrew slogans. But slowly the realization dawned on me that I was giving away my talent for free. And to whom? Not to some poor, deserving non-profit association, but to the richest business corporations in the country. If I'm so talented, and save everyone involved lots of time and bother by coming up with a solution so fast, I should be paid more, not less, wouldn't you think?


Obviously, I am not the only one approached by the agencies, and I am not the only one who can do a good job. I think we translators and copywriters should show some solidarity. I think we should all stand up to the big corporations and refuse to work for them for nothing, or next-to-nothing. C'mon guys, show some backbone!


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