In “Breaking through: Working with Japanese Creatives“, John McCreery discusses the difficulties that arise when non-Japanese businesses attempt to advertise in Japan. There is a cultural clash between the foreign business manager and the Japanese creative team. According to McCreery, the two groups will not be successful if foreign managers do not speak Japanese, as is the case 99% of the time. “Who would run a business in the United States without knowing English, or a business in Paris without knowing French, and without being able to communicate with employees in their native language? Is it out of ignorance or arrogance that we think we can run businesses successfully as illiterates in the second most important economy in the world?” (McCreery).
Because the client and the creative team do not share a language, ideas must be shared through a translator. This alone causes problems due to miscommunications. However, most of the difficulties arise because one cannot understand a culture without understanding a language. For example, foreign managers attempt to give presentations in the same way they would in their home country, unaware that they are creating a “classroom situation”, in which the creatives are unlikely to respond with their own input because Japanese students learn from a young age not to question the teacher. This article gives a great real life example of the importance of language in understanding culture, and the importance of understanding both when it comes to successfully running a business in a foreign country.