Bad Translations of Marketing Slogans

When it comes to marketing, every single word needs to be carefully considered. You always want your audience to clearly understand your message and to not take you out of context. For the pros, this is easy. But there are some areas where even the pros get tangled up from time to time.

Especially when it comes to having their message translated into a different language. The following are some examples of American messages that took on a terrible new meaning when translated into a different language.

Vick’s:  Germany had a different take on Vick’s cough drops when the product first arrived. The German pronunciation of the letter V is actually F. This gave the Vick’s name a whole new meaning, as “Ficks” is German roughly translated to “sexual penetration.”

Jolly Green Giant: The giant is not quite as cheerful one translated to Arabic. There’s just nothing pleasant, after all, about an “Intimidating Green Ogre.”

Purdue Chicken: Let’s face it…the American slogan for Purdue itself isn’t really all that great. It states: It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.” This slogan gets even weirder (and inappropriate) when it was translated for a Mexican audience: “It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”

Puff Tissues:  This cutesy name for bathroom tissue in the states isn’t so cute in Germany. There, the term “puff” is slang for a whorehouse. The name Puff wasn’t well received in the UK either, as it’s a term that is often used negatively in reIMG_Lost_in_Translation-01gards to homosexuals.

Pepsi: When Pepsi introduced their product in Taiwan, they did so with the slogan “Come Alive with Pepsi!”  When translated into the local dialect, this message became truly terrifying. Consumers were told that “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.”

Gerber: While this baby food company has no linguistic confusion, they did have an issue with their labels when they started selling their product in China. Their labels have a cute smiling face of a baby on them. However in china, labels for food products often feature a picture of what’s inside the container.

What are some other oddball translation gaffes that you have seen in the marketing world?

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