Join our Creative Hour: transcreation exercise for the Natural History Museum

Welcome to this week’s Creative Hour here at AJT – we’re so glad you’re joining us. What’s the idea? The aim of this transcreation exercise is to brainstorm creative ideas under time pressure. Set yourself a time limit between 30 to 60 minutes for this exercise. What are we doing exactly? Our objective is to come up with creative slogans (in a language of your choice) that fulfil the brief below. Take a minute to read through the instructions. If you have any questions, let us know via LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter and we’ll answer as quickly as we can. Ready to flex your creative muscle? Poise your pen and read on…

The brief

IMPORTANT: This is a fictitious client, and a fictitious brief. We have no affiliation with the Natural History Museum (other than that we love it so!), and this exercise is in no way linked to any real life projects.

The client: The Natural History Museum in London

The task: The Natural History Museum currently produces quirky ads in English that are displayed outside of the museum and around London (for example, on the Underground, on bus stops etc) to encourage visitors to London to explore the museum. The client’s English ads use clever puns and play on words that put a smile on the reader’s face.

The client would now like to produce similar ads to entice overseas visitors. The customer would like to use the same images as in the English ads, but they understand that the play on words will probably not translate well into other languages. They are happy for the translators to take liberties to come up with something equally creative in their language, as long as:

  • the slogans tie in with the imagery of the poster;
  • the slogans roughly fit in with the size of the poster – wording can be up to 50% longer but no more, otherwise the font size might be reduced too much;
  • the overarching message is to pique the reader’s interest and inspire them to visit the museum.

As an example, for the ‘herbivore’ slogan, you could talk about dinosaurs rather than herbivores, as that would still tie in with the imagery.

For the purpose of this exercise, you can ignore:

  • the text below the slogans – this will be changed later to tie in with your slogan;
  • where the localised posters will appear – all we know is that our slogans will be displayed on print ads the same size as the English ads.

Choose one (or more) option(s)

Choosing from one of the options below, try to come up with two to three slogans that might go with the imagery in the ad.

Option 1 – Dinosaurs

Herbivore transcreation exercise

Option 2 – Blue Whale

Bluewhale transcreation exercise

Option 3 –  Oceans: Are seahorses the ocean’s quirkiest fish?

Oceans transcreation exercise

Option 4 – Human Evolution: Homo naledi, your most recently discovered human relative

Human evolution transcreation exercise

Option 5 – Insects: The glimmering world of glow-worms

Insects transcreation exercise

Language considerations

For those of you transcreating in a language other than English, please provide a literal back translation into English along with a brief summary of your rationale, so everyone can understand the idea behind your slogan.


  • Option 1
  • EN: Have a whale of a time
  • DE: Die Qual der Wa(h)l
  • Rationale: The German word for whale is Wal. In German, we also have a saying the Qual der Wahl, which means ‘to be spoilt for choice’ – so it’s a play on words between the German Wal (whale) and Wahl (choice), alluding to the fact that visitors to the museum will be spoilt for choice.

For those of you who would like to do this exercise in English, you can either provide alternative ideas for options 1 and 2, or you can work with one of the ‘blank’ images of option 3, 4 or 5, taking inspiration from the original articles on the Natural History Museum website.


  • Option 1
  • EN: Have a whale of a time
  • EN: Blue is the new black
  • Rationale: Reference to the blue whale in the image, which is the centre piece in the entrance hall of the Natural History Museum, and which is a must-see.

That’s it – ready, steady, write!

What happens next?

Share your ideas in the comments on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter). But don’t worry! We’re not looking for something incredibly perfect or polished. This transcreation exercise is all about getting our linguistic and creative synapses firing, honing our writing skills and sharing ideas with others. Are you a solitary word smith or more of a collaborative creator? You can do this exercise on your own or collaborate with others – whatever works best for you.