If you are considering marketing your product internationally, there are a lot of things you must consider when naming your products or creating your slogans. It may surprise you to learn that some major companies have had some huge product failures because they didn’t do their research. Remember the Chevy Nova? That didn’t do so well in Mexico due to the name meaning: No Go. Once they realized this, they renamed the car the Caribe.
Here are some other famous blunders:
Schweppes Tonic Water translates in Italian to “Schweppes Toilet Water”
Coors’ Slogan “Turn it Loose” translates in Spanish to “Suffer from Diarrhea”
Pepsi’s Slogan “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation” translates in Chinese to “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave”
KFC’s Slogan “Finger Licking Good” translates in Chinese as “Eat Your Fingers Off”
Clairol’s “Mist Stick” curling iron translates in German to “Manure Stick”
The Dairy Association’s “Got Milk” ad translates in Spanish to “Are You Lactating”
It’s not just Americans who make these blunders. Scandinavian manufacturer of Electrolux created the campaign: Nothing Sucks like an Electrolux.
It has been said that Gerber may have made one of the biggest blunders, however, when they put a picture of a baby on their jars of baby food. In Africa, it is common for them to put a picture on the label of what is actually in the product. This has since been considered a myth.
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One thought on “What’s in a Name? Famous Marketing Translation Blunders”
I put my hands up that I actually found this pretty funny at first. But the more I thought about it, the more I though it just goes to show that translation errors can have such detrimental effects on reputation and trust weather its business related or personal. I know I’ve definitely suffered the effects of bad translations in the past so I just leave it in the hands of a translation agency now. They use real language specialists to ensure all translations are made accurately for your target languages.