Lost In Translation: International Advertising Gone Wrong

Posted on: July 9th, 2014

KFC translation mistake

The international market is booming. Before you go abroad, nurture and develop your campaign as you would a local or national one to avoid international distress. Keep reading for our top 5 international advertising faux pas.

5. “The Jolly Green Giant” slogan of Green Giant means “Intimidating Green Ogre” in Arabic. Nothing’s as effective as a monster to scare kids into eating their vegetables.

4. KFC’s “Finger lickin’ good” mantra changes to “We’ll eat your fingers” in Chinese. Important news update: cannibalism is typically frowned upon.

3. Schweppes Tonic Water translates to “Schweppes Toilet Water” in Italian. Mmm, doesn’t that just make you want to buy a bottle? Delizioso!

2. When Coors Brewing Company advertised in Spanish, their playful slogan “Turn it loose” became “Suffer from diarrhea.” You can imagine sales were down in the dumps after that product launch.

1. Sales from Ford’s Pinto model were shy in the face of its Brazilian translation. Unbeknownst to Ford, “Pinto” is slang for “tiny male genitals.”

While each company noticed the problem after some time, it tarnished their image and left a lasting impression. Research is key when targeting a market where culture, language and other factors may differ. According to Bharat Thakrar, head of Africa’s top marketing agency, “The most successful brands go so local they become part of society – running marathons and musical festivals.” He advises that companies will struggle if they fail to adapt their advertising to the continent in which they’re targeting. For step-by-step instructions on how to achieve international success, click here.

Get recognized in a good way. Appleton Creative is an award-winning, full-service advertising agency located in Orlando, Florida. Appleton works with local, national and international clients to provide marketing strategies through print, web, social media and video production – all in-house. At Appleton, we want to learn about your business, empower your marketing team and be your creative resource. Your marketing goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or info@appletoncreative.com.