When Frank Perdue launched his poultry company’s marketing slogan, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” it was a huge success in the United States. But its rollout in Mexico reportedly raised eyebrows and produced giggles instead. Apparently, the Spanish translation gives the slogan a raunchy sexual connotation.
Olga M. Pina tells that story to underscore the need for sensitivity and caution while conducting cross-border business and representing international clients. Pina, the practice leader for international business at Fowler White Boggs in Tampa, Fla., spoke on an American Bar Association Annual Meeting Section of Litigation panel about the need for international lawyers to be alert to differing cultures and customs.
Pina counsels her younger associates who work with foreign clients or overseas that a lawyer’s appearance is as important as knowledge of the law, advocacy abilities and negotiating skills.
“Most jurisdictions outside the U.S. don’t do business casual,” Pina said. “How you come across not only shows a sign of respect in your business, but it also sends a message about authority and power.”
Pina observed that women lawyers in a professional setting have more flexibility in how they dress when dealing with Latin American cultures than they do in most Asian cultures, where dark, conservative suits are the norm.