And Slogan Mis-translations from American Advertising Compaigns in Other Countries and languages
In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan
Come alive with the Pepsi Generation
came out in Chinese as Pepsi will bring your
ancestors back from the grave.
When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to say It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you. However, the company mistakenly thought the Spanish word embarazar meant embarrass.
Instead the ads said:
It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.
Frank Perdue’s slogan It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken sounds much more interesting in Spanish. A photo of Perdue with one of his chickens appeared on billboards all over Mexico with a caption that explained:
It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused (or)
It takes a sexually stimulated man to
make a chicken affectionate.
Coors translated its slogan, Turn it loose, into Spanish, where it was read as Suffer from diarrhea.
Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign:
Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.
When Braniff translated a slogan touting its upholstery,
Fly in leather, it came out in Spanish as Fly naked.
The Microsoft ad slogan, as translated into Japanese:
If you don’t know where you want to go,
we’ll make sure you get taken.
Clairol introduced the Mist Stick, a curling iron, into Germanonly to find out that Mist is slang for (to put it delicately) manure. Not too many people had use for the Manure Stick. This is the reason why Rolls Royce decided not to call one of its models the Silver Mist – for fear of lost sales in the German-speaking world.
When Chevrolet developed the Chevy Nova, they decided to market it heavily in Mexico, where the name translates as doesn’t go. The car was later renamed Caribe.
Ford had a similar problem in Brazil when the Pinto flopped. The company found out that Pinto was Brazilian slang for tiny male genitals. Ford pried all the nameplates off and substituted Corcel, which means horse.
The name Coca-Cola in China was first rendered as something that when pronounced sounded like Coca-Cola: Ke-kou-ke-la. Unfortunately, the Coke company did not discover until after thousands of signs had been printed that the characters used meant bite the wax tadpole or female horse stuffed with wax, depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent, Ko-kou-ko-le, which can be loosely translated as happiness in the mouth.
The Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan finger-lickin’ good came out in KFC’s first Chinese campaign as eat your fingers off.
An American tee-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market, promoting the Pope’s visit. Instead of the desired I saw the Pope! (el Papa) Thousands of shirts proudly proclaimed in Spanish I saw the Potato! (la Papa).
Hunt-Wesson introduced its Big John products in French Canada as Gros Jos before finding out that the phrase, in slang, means big breasts. But in this case, the name problem did not seem to have a negative effect on sales.
Colgate introduced a toothpaste in Francecalled Cue, the name of a notorious porn magazine. We know sex sells, but that might have been going a bit too far. Even for France, famous for having a more liberal attitude towards sex, nude pictures in advertising, etc.
In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into Schweppes Toilet Water.
When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the samepackaging as in the US, with the beautiful baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of what’s inside, since many people can’t read English.
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Section: Funny English Bloopers & Mistakes