Marketing campaigns can be successful in one country and a flop in the next. Below, we’ll look at some of the biggest translation blunders over the last few years, partially for enjoyment, and partially to convey the need for proper professional translation services.
- Iranian company Paxam uses the Farsi word for “snow” to market its laundry detergent, but when that word is translated into English, it comes out “barf.”
- When McDonald’s first expanded their business to France, bringing along their signature “Big Mac” burger, the translation came out Gros Mec, which is French slang for “Big Pimp.”
- Proctor & Gamble’s major diaper product, Pampers, ran into trouble overseas. The iconic image of a stork delivering a baby, something American parents tell their children about the delivery of babies, was not common folklore in Japanese markets. The company soon realized that Japanese parents didn’t make the connection, because in Japan they tell their kids that babies are delivered via giant floating peaches.
- In the late 1980s, Kentucky Fried Chicken expanded into the Chinese market. In their flagship store in Beijing, the translation mistake was glaring. The infamous “Finger-lickin’ good” slogan, meant to entice consumers with thoughts of delicious chicken, accidentally translated to “Eat your fingers off.” This mistake hasn’t cost KFC much in the way of business, however; they now have more than 4,400 restaurants in China alone.
- The Ford Motor Company had their own example of translation trouble when they tried to impress upon Belgian consumers their excellent manufacturing techniques. Ford executives thought their slogan said “Every car has a high-quality body,” when really it translated to “Every car has a high-quality corpse.”
A well-recognized slogan from telecommunications company, Orange, did just fine in the US and elsewhere in the world, but when the company launched an ad campaign for Ireland in 1994, they didn’t realize the implication of their branding. Orange reminded consumers of the Orange Order, a heavily Protestant organization in Northern Ireland.
Don’t let your company fall prey to mistakes that could cost you opportunities in a new market. eContent Pro provides professional translation services that could have prevented these mistakes.
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