I received an email recently from BT encouraging me to sign up to the Terminate the Rate campaign. This aims to end the fee applied to landline calls to mobile phones, or to calls from mobiles to users on a different network. My first reaction was suspicion – a utilities company urging me to join a campaign to help me save money?
But I clicked on the link to Terminate the Rate. And here I have to admit my translator’s curiosity overrode my interest in saving money. There, just over half-way down the page was the heading “Drop the Rate, Mate! Terminate the Rate goes global, Kiwi style”
The change of style isn’t just linguistic: it continues in the web sites’ design. The UK’s is in cool (i.e. cold) blues and lilacs, the only hint of rebellion being the slightly grungy type used for the headings. New Zealand’s Drop the Rate site is in eye-popping orange, fuchsia, red and ochre, with running text in bright blue and green (plus fuchsia and ochre again) adding to the visual din.
The UK’s site shows a smiling grey-haired woman talking serenely on her mobile, New Zealand’s an enraged 30-something man yelling at, not into, his phone.
The UK’s is static, New Zealand’s dynamic. And good grief, they even use the word “bloody” in one of their running banner texts!
I’m bemused, I really am. What sort of cultural stereotypes are they appealing to here? Are they valid? Do you identify with either reaction – smiling serenity or angry rage –over mobile phone charges? Comments from Poms, Kiwis, Aussies (Ozzies? – guidance from Sarah Dillon would be appreciated here!), or any other ethnicity most welcome.
By Marian Dougan