Marketing Translation Fails

Marketing Translation Fails

Don’t let this be you! Messed up marketing translation can cost your company dearly. Here are some infamous examples to help you learn from other’s mistakes.

Over time there have been several high-profile organizations that have missed the mark when it comes to marketing translation. Here are some of the biggest blunders in modern times that highlight the cost of bad translations.

  1. IKEA is known for its very Swedish product names that sound funny to Americans. They wanted to promote the “fährt” (speed) of their desk wheels in a particular design, and named the desk “Fartfull.”
  2. Schweppes Tonic Water failed in Italy upon their initial debut when the name was translated into “Schweppes Toilet Water.” Sounds refreshing, right?
  3. You’re probably familiar with the classic Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan “Finger lickin’ good.” In China, the slogan was initially translated to “Eat your fingers off.”
  4. Paxam labeled laundry soap utilizing the Farsi word for “snow”. And then the world had Barf Detergent Powder.
  5. When Mercedes-Benz initially launched in China, they went to market with the name “Bensi,” which translated to “Rush to die” in Mandarin. Oops.
  6. When Pepsi debuted their “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” campaign, the Mandarin translation was understood as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”
  7. Perdue’s “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken” slogan was originally translated in Spanish to “It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”

Investing in Marketing Translation

Bungled translations can derail to best marketing plans of companies in the global marketplace, and these examples demonstrate how important accurate translation is. When the stakes are high, skimping on translation processes doesn’t make sense and the opportunity cost can be massive.

Exceptional translation is as much an art as it is science. The best translators can convey the meaning and spirit of the source text while avoiding negative cultural references and idioms that can undermine a company’s intentions. On the other hand, the worst translators (including many free translation software services) tell your audience that they will summon the dead or rush to die. Nobody wants that!

Need help with a translation project for your global company? We’re available to help. Let’s Get in Touch!