This Polyglot Makes Brand Messages Work In Every Language

Richard Simcott helps marketers connect with consumers worldwide

The Social Element's languages director, Simcott works on multilingual projects for clients.
Alex Yakimovski

Figuring out how a brand should interact with consumers on social media across the globe isn’t possible if you don’t understand the language—or languages. And, as more and more major brands insist on global messaging that works on a local level, making sure those messages translate has become crucial for agencies.

That’s exactly what Richard Simcott has been tasked with in his role at The Social Element. As the social shop’s languages director, Simcott is growing the agency’s team of polyglots (people that are fluent in more than two languages) and keeping clients like Oreo, T-Mobile and HBO abreast of social trends around the world.

“Richard is a lightning rod for exceptional talent and is something of an internet superstar in the polyglot world,” said Tamara Littleton, CEO of The Social Element. “Our ability to create and manage social media in multiple languages is key to our agency strategy.”

For his part, Simcott has been “interested in social media since YouTube started” because “it changed the game for the language learning community,” he said. “I started my own YouTube channel and created my first multilingual video in 16 languages to reach out to other language aficionados.” Building a community of language enthusiasts online made it easy for him to find people to work on multilingual projects and made him a natural fit for the job he currently holds.

At the moment, Simcott is working on a brief that looks at how WeChat has affected consumer behavior in China and what U.S. clients can learn from that. At the same time, he’s also looking at the way the agency uses languages on client projects and figuring out ways to improve those systems or create new ones that will “further our ability to service our clients’ needs,” he explained.

Curriculum vitae
Languages director
The Social Element
2017 – present
Works with a team of social media specialists to make sure brand messages connect with consumers in cultures across the globe.

Languages director
Polpeo
2014 – present
Assists brands like KLM, Oreo and T-Mobile as well as agencies like Tribal DDB, Wieden + Kennedy, Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy & Mather and Publicis Groupe with language strategy.

Languages director
Emoderation Limited
2014 – 2017
Consulted with social teams to figure out language and brand-crisis planning.

Job profile
Simcott works with every division of The Social Element to “look after languages across the full set of services we offer,” he said.

How he got the position
After creating a successful YouTube channel, Simcott founded the Polyglot Conference, which became a “breeding ground for talented multilinguals to work on projects.”

90-day plan
In his first 30 days as languages director, Simcott will review the agency’s process when it comes to using different languages for clients. After the initial phase, he‘ll smooth out the use of internal resources and help identify ways in which The Social Element can broaden its services for clients.

This story first appeared in the April 17, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.