How Does Your Marketing Message Translate?

With all the buzz about social media and marketing blunders around corporate giants Groupon and Marc Jacobs we thought we’d take a few moments to rehash some of the most embarrassing marketing mistakes made over the years, especially with cross cultural campaigns.

1. When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” Instead, the company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

2. In Spain, when Coors Brewing Company put its slogan, “Turn it loose” into Spanish; it was read as “Suffer from diarrhea”.

3. When Braniff International Airways translated a slogan touting its upholstery, “Fly in leather”, it came out in Spanish as “Fly naked”.

4. When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, they translated their slogan, “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” pretty literally. The slogan in Chinese really meant, “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”

5. PepsiCola lost it dominant market share to Coke in South East Asia when Pepsi changed the color of its vending machines and coolers from deep “Regal” blue to light “Ice” blue as light blue is associated with death and mourning in SE Asia.

Looking to promote your company across multiple cultures and languages? Whether you are using an online campaign or making custom vinyl banners and signs, take a note from these mistakes and work with locals of the various regions to ensure your messages comes across clearly and correctly!

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