Just for fun… Some of these may be true; some may be totally jokes… But they all send a serious message
1. Pepsi will bring you ancestors back to life!
Several high profile western companies have had difficulties when translating their marketing copy into Chinese. Pepsi made this mistake when they unwittingly translated their “come alive with the Pepsi generation” slogan as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”. That is certainly a bold promise.
2. Parker Pens are not likely to make you pregnant.
When Parker Pen first started to market their ballpoint pen to the Mexican market, they wanted to tell their new audience that their pens “won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”. However, the company thought that the Spanish for “embarrass” was “embarzar”, which actually means to impregnate.
So, Parker Pen’s translated marketing copy actually read “It won’t leak in your pocket and impregnate you.” Well that’s quite reassuring.
3. Sharwoods hit a bum note.
In 2003, UK food manufacturer Sharwoods launched their latest curry sauce that was said to be “deliciously rich”. The new produce was entitled “Bundh”, with the name supposedly “inspired by a traditional northern Indian ‘closed pot’ method of cooking”. Sharwoods were so confident in their latest product, that they even backed it with a £6 million television advertising campaign.
However, following the launch, Sharwoods received several calls from Punjabi speakers telling them that “Bundh” sounded like the Punjabi word for “arse”. That is certainly one way to receive a bum rap from curry lovers.
4. Honda’s Nordic embarrassment.
In 2001, Honda introduced their new car, the “Fitta”. Yet, if the company had taken the time to understand the cultural and linguistic nuances of their new market, they would have noticed that “Fitta” was an old, crass term that referred to the female genitals in Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish.
Consequently, the car was renamed the “Honda Jazz”.
5. Coca Cola and a sticky situation.
When Coca Cola first translated their name into Chinese, it literally translated to “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax”, depending on your dialect.
In a desperate effort to change their Chinese name, Coke researched 40,000 Chinese characters to find the phonetic equivalent, “kekoukele”, meaning happiness in the mouth” in Chinese. This instance shows that even the smallest translation error can dramatically affect the final message.
Read the original text here: http://www.translatemedia.com/5-marketing-translation-mistakes.html/#ixzz2mHQtxMRA
- The Japanese company Matsushita Electric was promoting a new Japanese PC for internet users. Panasonic created the new web browser and had received license to use the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker as an interactive internet guide.
The day before the huge marketing campaign, Panasonic realised its error and pulled the plug. Why? The ads for the new product featured the following slogan: “Touch Woody – The Internet Pecker.” The company only realised its cross cultural blunder when an embarrassed American explain what “touch Woody’s pecker” could be interpreted as!
- The Swedish furniture giant IKEA somehow agreed upon the name “FARTFULL” for one of its new desks. Enough said..
In the late 1970s, Wang, the American computer company could not understand why its British branches were refusing to use its latest motto “Wang Cares”. Of course, to British ears this sounds too close to “Wankers” which would not really give a very positive image to any company.
There are several examples of companies getting tangled up with bad translations of products due to the word “mist”. We had “Irish Mist” (an alcoholic drink), “Mist Stick” (a curling iron from Clairol) and “Silver Mist” (Rolls Royce car) all flopping as “mist” in German means dung/manure. Fancy a glass of Irish dung?
10. “Traficante” and Italian mineral water found a great reception in Spain’s underworld. In Spanish it translates as “drug dealer”.
- In 2002, Umbro the UK sports manufacturer had to withdraw its new trainers (sneakers) called the Zyklon. The firm received complaints from many organisations and individuals as it was the name of the gas used by the Nazi regime to murder millions of Jews in concentration camps.
12. Sharwoods, a UK food manufacturer, spent £6 million on a campaign to launch its new ‘Bundh’ sauces. It received calls from numerous Punjabi speakers telling them that “bundh” sounded just like the Punjabi word for “arse”.
13. Honda introduced their new car “Fitta” into Nordic countries in 2001. If they had taken the time to undertake some cross cultural marketing research they may have discovered that “fitta” was an old word used in vulgar language to refer to a woman’s genitals in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. In the end they renamed it “Honda Jazz”.
- A nice cross cultural example of the fact that all pictures or symbols are not interpreted the same across the world: staff at the African port of Stevadores saw the “internationally recognised” symbol for “fragile” (i.e. broken wine glass) and presumed it was a box of broken glass. Rather than waste space they threw all the boxes into the sea!