Tag Archives: content

Marketing Campaigns that Failed to Translate

Don’t make these mistakes – they are all true!

1. The Dairy Association’s huge success with the campaign “Got Milk?” prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention the Spanish translation read “Are you lactating?”

2. Coors put its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish, where it was read as “Suffer From Diarrhea.”

3. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

4. Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick,” a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that “mist” is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the “Manure Stick.”

5. When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the smiling baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the labels of what’s inside, since many people can’t read.

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

7. An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope’s visit. Instead of “I saw the Pope” (el Papa), the shirts read “I Saw the Potato” (la papa).

8. Pepsi’s “Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave” in Chinese.

9. The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as “Kekoukela”, meaning “Bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax”, depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent “kokou kole”, translating into “happiness in the mouth.”

10. Frank Perdue’s chicken slogan, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken” was translated into Spanish as “it takes an aroused man to make chicken affectionate.”

11. When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” 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!”

12. When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class seats in the Mexican market, it translated its “Fly In Leather” campaign literally, which meant “Fly Naked” (vuela en cuero) in Spanish.

5 Fatal Marketing Clichés to Avoid

Marketing is abounding with spectacular creative work, powerful messages and innovative campaigns. But with less than a quarter of consumers saying that they trust ads, it becomes very important not to fall into the trap of monotony, and to that end, cliché.

These days much more effective than a catchy tagline, is the interaction or conversation sparked between a company’s customers and consumers. As social and digital marketing continue to rise to the top of the food chain, it becomes clearer that the channels in which taglines worked best are no longer perceived as the most reliable ones.

Reliable, popular brands are sparking conversation, and a key to sparking conversation is saying something different. This means it is almost as important to differentiate your brand from your direct competitors as it is to differentiate it from other marketing tactics across other industries.

Here are some of the most cliché tag lines or promises that ads make, and that your brand should avoid using any iteration of if it wants to stay in the game:

Our company does ______ so you don’t have to. Popular in an age where new apps and technologies consistently aim to streamline our lives, this is one of the oldest clichés in the marketing book. Just playing around with syntax and punctuation can help you to frame your value proposition more creatively.

World-class. Claiming that your product is the best of the best is very direct… and very transparent. It falls into the trap of putting brand before the customer. Visit our Challenger Marketing Center to learn more about crafting a message that conveys true commercial insight.

One million people can’t be wrong. First of all, of course they can. Second, be more specific. What are those million people doing? Why are they doing it? What do they have in common? This cliché suffers from not digging deep enough.

One-stop shop. Marketers probably hear this one from their ad agencies as much as they put it back out into the world. It’s an oldie, but it has regained popularity as the Internet expands—Lots of technology aims to do more things with less space, so it’s no wonder we hear this everywhere.

Take X to the next level. What is the next level and why do we need to get there? Again, it’s important to think about what exactly your product offering is before you can sell it. If you switched the logo on this ad to one of your competitors’, would it still be true? Work from there!

Have you seen any of these clichés tweaked so that they work well? How have your brands re-purposed them for multi-channel marketing?