When translation projects go poorly, what follows can rapidly bust a brand.
But it’s not just small companies that look on in shock as they watch their translated ad pieces derail, crash, and burn. Even large companies with vast advertising budgets manage to get it all fouled up sometimes. Here are some examples:
- When Braniff translated a slogan touting its upholstery, “Fly in Leather,” it came out in Spanish as “Fly Naked.”
- Coors put its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish, where it was read as “Suffer From Diarrhea.”
- The Chevy Nova never sold well in Spanish-speaking countries. “No Va” means “It Does Not Go” in Spanish.
- When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, it translated its slogan, “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” pretty literally. The slogan in Chinese means, “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”
- When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, it used the same packaging as here in the USA, with the cute baby on the label. Later, Gerber found out that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of what is inside to help those who can’t read identify the product.
- When translated into Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan “finger-lickin’ good” came out as “eat your fingers off.”
- The Dairy Association’s huge success with the campaign “Got Milk?” prompted it to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to the Dairy Association’s attention, though, that the Spanish translation read, “Are you lactating?”