Friday, October 10, 2008

Twelve Terrible Advertising Translation Mistakes

Your product’s doing very well in your home market, all thanks to your clever advertising. So, why not replicate its success abroad? All you have to do is translate your successful adverts. What could possibly go wrong?!


Bacardi spent huge amounts of money launching its new spin off drink across Europe, to a young and funky crowd. They called it Pavian. Unfortunately they didn’t realise that Pavian means ‘baboon’ in German. Hardly a lifestyle choice.

When Coca-Cola decided to enter the Chinese market, they had their famous brand name rendered in Chinese characters. Regrettably, it came out as “bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax", depending on the dialect of Chinese used.
Pepsi Cola

Pepsi had a similar bad experience in the Chinese market. They translated their successful ‘Pepsi gives you zest for life’. Sadly, it went a little wrong and came out as ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave’.
Jolly Green Giant Sweetcorn

The translation for Jolly Green Giant into Arabic didn’t go as well as it could – it was made into ‘Intimidating Green Monster’, which would hardly endear the brand to consumers!
Zube Throat Sweets

This successful British throat sweet was also launched into the North African Arab market. Nobody told them that in Arabic ‘Zube’ is a slang term for a horse’s large penis.
Nestle Baby Milk

In Central Africa, tins of baby food imported by Nestle caused riots. The local population were only used to labels depicting the food that was inside the tin. Nestle’s graphic included a smiling baby…

When Ford launched an advertising campaign in Belgium declaiming the excellent build quality of their vehicles, the headline ‘Every car has a high quality body’ came out as ‘Every car has a high quality corpse’.

Vauxhall spent a large sum launching their Nova model in the Spanish market – unfortunately in Spanish ‘no va’ means ‘won’t go’. Hardly a ringing endorsement for a new car.

This British motor manufacturer launched its Acclaim model in Germany. Sadly, ‘Triumph Acclaim’ becomes ‘Sieg Heil’ in German – the hallmark battle cry of the Nazis.
Sunmaid Californian Raisins

On the packet of Sunmaid raisins it contains the suggestion ‘Why not try tossing over your favourite breakfast cereal?’ Nobody told them that, in the UK, ‘tossing’ is a slang word for masturbation.

Coors didn’t do very well in the Spanish market when they translated their successful slogan "Turn It Loose". The Spanish-speaking drinkers were encouraged to "Get Diarrhoea".

Thousands of posters were printed in Germany encouraging German customers to ‘Enjoy your morning Latte’. Oops! In German, ‘Latte’ is slang for an erection.

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