Today, we have a chance to laugh at the poor souls in marketing who weren’t quite thorough enough in their research before unleashing their slogans on the world – here are some of my favorites:
Bacardi invested huge amounts of marketing dollars to target their new drink spin off across Europe. They named the drink Pavian. Sadly, Pavian is translated to ‘baboon’ in German.
When Coca-Cola started selling to China many local shopkeepers attempted to create advertising using characters that sounded roughly like Coca-Cola when put together. The resulting ‘Ke-kou-ke-la’ roughly means ‘bite the wax tadpole’ or ‘female horse stuffed with wax,’ depending on the dialect. Coke found a better fit with the phonetic equivalent ‘Ko-kou-ko-le,’ which can be loosely translated as ‘happiness in the mouth.’
Coca-Cola wasn’t the only one to have issues in China. Pepsi’s slogan ‘Pepsi gives you zest for life’ when directly translated became: ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.’
Jolly Green Giant turned into ‘Intimidating Green Monster’ when translated into Arabic. As if feeding vegetables to kids wasn’t hard enough!
In areas were literacy is low, like Central Africa, it is common practice to put a picture on the label depicting what was inside the tin. Imagine their horror when a case of Nestle Baby Milk showed up with a picture of a grinning baby on the label.
Ford’s advertising campaign in Belgium included the slogan ‘Every car has a high quality body’ to emphasize the excellent build quality. This phrase translates to, ‘Every car has a high quality corpse.’