It seems that over the years, even some of the largest corporate advertising executives didn’t always do enough investigative research in their “homework” when it came to marketing American products in other parts of the world. Some of their marketing campaigns turned into embarrassing fiascos during translations from English into local native languages in other parts of the world. Checkout some of the more notorious as well as humorous examples below.
- In China, the Coca-Cola name was initially read as “Kekoukela”, which meant “Bite the Wax Tadpole” or “Female Horse Stuffed with Wax”, depending upon the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent – “kokoukole”, which translates into “Happiness in the Mouth.”
- General Motors had a notoriously famous fiasco when they tried to market the car model, Nova in Central and South America. Seems that “No va” in Spanish means, “It Doesn’t Go.”
- The Dairy Association’s huge success with the campaign, “Got Milk?” prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention that the Spanish translation read “Are You Lactating?”
- When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class seats in the Mexican market, it translated its “Fly In Leather” campaign literally, which meant “Fly Naked” (vuela en cuero) in Spanish.
- Remember the Pepsi advertising campaign back in the 60’s, “Come Alive, You’re in the Pepsi Generation”? Well, that didn’t go over too well when translated into Chinese. What it meant was, “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave.”
- Coors put its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish, where it was translated as “Suffer From Diarrhea.”
- Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, which just happened to be the name of a notorious porno magazine.
- When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the United States, with the smiling baby on the label. They later learned that companies in Africa routinely put pictures on the product label of what’s inside, since many people are illiterate and can’t read.
- In Germany, Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick,” which was a curling iron, only to find out that “mist” is slang in German translation for manure. Not too many people had use for the “Manure Stick.”
- Frank Perdue’s chicken slogan, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken,” was translated into Spanish as “it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”
- Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: “Nothing Sucks like an Electrolux”.
- An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market that promoted the Pope’s visit. Instead of “I saw the Pope” (el Papa), the shirts read “I Saw the Potato” (la papa).
- When the Parker Pen Company marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” The company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
Filed under: Amusing & Humorous Observations, Commercials & Ads, just for laughs Tagged: | bad corporate translations, slogans, translations, worst advertising translations, worst slogans, worst translations