Accueil > BLAGUES-L > Archives 1996 >

Date: Fri, 26 Jul 1996 00:04:32 -0400 (EDT)
From: Laura Secord 

Date: Thu, 6 Jun 1996 19:03:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: Isabelle Laporte

Subject: Marketing nightmares

 Cracking an international market is a goal of most growing
 corporations.  It shouldn't be that hard, yet even the big
 multi-nationals run into trouble because of language and
 cultural differences.  For example...

 The name Coca-Cola in China was first rendered as
 Ke-kou-ke-la.  Unfortunately, the Coke company did not
 discover until after thousands of signs had been printed that
 the phrase means "bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse
 stuffed with wax" depending on the dialect.  Coke then
 researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close
 phonetic equivalent, "ko-kou-ko-le," which can be loosely
 translated as "happiness in the mouth."

 In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan "Come alive
 with the Pepsi Generation" came out as "Pepsi will bring
 your ancestors back from the dead."

 Also in Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan "finger-
 lickin' good" came out as "eat your fingers off."

 The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, "Salem - Feeling
 Free," got translated in the Japanese market into "When
 smoking Salem, you feel so refreshed that your mind seems
 to be free and empty."

 When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South
 America, it was apparently unaware that "no va" means "it
 won't go."  After the company figured out why it wasn't selling
 any cars, it renamed the car in its Spanish markets to the

 Ford had a similar problem in Brazil when the Pinto flopped.
 The company found out that Pinto was Brazilian slang for
 "tiny male genitals".  Ford pried all the nameplates off and
 substituted Corcel, which means horse.

 When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its
 ads were supposed to say "It won't leak in your pocket and
 embarrass you."  However, the company's mistakenly
 thought the spanish word "embarazar" meant embarrass.
 Instead the ads said that "It wont leak in your pocket and
 make you pregnant."

 An American t-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the
 spanish market which promoted the Pope's visit.  Instead of
 the desired "I Saw the Pope" in Spanish, the shirts
 proclaimed "I Saw the Potato."

 Chicken-man Frank Perdue's slogan, "It takes a tough man
 to make a tender chicken," got terribly mangled in another
 Spanish translation.  A photo of Perdue with one of his birds
 appeared on billboards all over Mexico with a caption that
 explained "It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused."

 Hunt-Wesson introduced its Big John products in French
 Canada as Gros Jos before finding out that the phrase, in
 slang, means "big breasts."  In this case, however, the name
 problem did not have a noticeable effect on sales.

 Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the
 name of a notorious porno mag.

 In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated
 the name into Schweppes Toilet Water.

 Japan's second-largest tourist agency was mystified when it
 entered English-speaking markets and began receiving
 requests for unusual sex tours.  Upon finding out why, the
 owners of Kinki Nippon Tourist Company changed its name.

 and finally...

 In an effort to boost orange juice sales in predominantly
 continental breakfast eating England, a campaign was
 devised to extoll the drink's eye-opening, pick-me-up
 qualities.  Hence, slogan, "Orange juice.  It gets your pecker

 By the way, these are all true accounts...


Accueil > BLAGUES-L > Archives 1996 >