25 responses to “13 Marketing Translations gone wrong”

  1. Sire

    @#3: Mist means something like crap and is often used for swearing but it is not exactly a manure. But yeah….still a bad advertisement.

    @#10: That’s right. Just exchange “morning” with the correct translation and you get: “Morgenlatte”.

    (You might consider the fact that i am from Austria AND capable of speaking german. Trust me.)

  2. Constructeur maison bois St Brieuc

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  3. Lala Amezcua

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  5. Sydney Shore

    LOL. I totally enjoyed reading this post. Who would’ve thought, right? The question’s that’s bugging me though is that, why do some countries have to translate these slogans literally, word-by-word? Why can’t they translate the thought of the slogan? At least it’s more correct.

  6. Berry White

    In Europe Oil of Olaz introduced ‘Daily Facials’ Skin cleaning towels a few years ago.

    It’s not a good idea to lookup ‘Facials’ in an search engine.
    Although it might be seen as a cleaning product, i don’t think it has the same result…

  7. BigJuice

    Hilarious! Maybe I should put my Coors down now :-( I will be back for more good reading!

  8. blaka

    The car Ford Ka, in Europe…means in Surinamese: Ford SHIT.

    no wonder the car never sold in that country

  9. Aaron Eden

    I’m having laughs with the phrase ‘World of Mouth’… and then, I read on. Awesome read and highly entertaining as well. I wonder if you plan to put it in some collection of branding’s epic fail or something close. If I were to go down memory lane, there was this energy drink that’s pulled off the shelves simply because it was called: Cocaine. Redux beverages should have been smarter, as in what were they thinking, trying to get the message out there that they’re better than street drugs? But hey, it’s like a forbidden fruit and I think they’re still selling it somewhere. Ah, nothing compares to bad publicity..

  10. Allister Frost

    The Toyota MR2 was a bad name in France, because “MR2″ sounds similar to Emmerdeux, the French for “Shitty”.

  11. V malik

    Skoda launched a car in India called the Laura. It never did well also because Laura means limp penis in a crude way in Hindi. Worked better as the Octavia eventually.

  12. Gabriele Bryant

    A sign in a local restaurant reads “No adhesion for lost wardrobe”: Mistranslation of the German “Haftung” for liability.

    Another famous one is the Japanese softdring Pokari “Sweat”…

    And then there’s the “Come Bag” of the German post office for its brand of envelopes and the Swiss toothpaste by the name of “Candida” (a fungus causing yeast infections)…

  13. Mary Jane

    CVS had a sign on their shelves that said “Satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back”, and in Spanish beneath it translated to:
    “Satisfaction guaranteed you, or your back full of money.” I know, it made no sense!

  14. Anders Lotsson

    The Honda Fitta is now sold in Sweden as Honda Jazz.

  15. Erik Hansson

    Car producer Honda decided to keep the name Fitta when they introduced the car in Sweden. They should have asked someone before. This word is slang for a vagina.

    1. Catherine Christaki

      Re: Erik’s comment about Honda’s Fitta
      In slang Greek, the word Fitta can either mean “plants” if accented on the first syllable or “spit!” if accented on the second syllable. Would have been a hilarious marketing mistake :-)

  16. Steve YATES

    Here in Lyon (France), we have a clothing shop called Pulls + Sweats

    1. Steve YATES

      Une “Pull’ is French for Pullover / Jumper and Un “Sweat” is a sweatshirt

  17. Raz Chorev

    One of the most famous car name gone wrong, is the Mitsubishi Pajero (Spanish – Wanker). Other campaigns with similar issues can be found in a hilarious post from 2008
    Enjoy :)

  18. dacker

    #12 (Electrolux) would work pretty well in the US these days for it’s humor.

    It reminds me of an early ’70s TV ad for a brand of chainsaw. Alex Karras (football player/actor) talked-up the merits of the product to a little girl. When he’s finished, she turns to him and says, “And it doesn’t take a big jerk… to start it.”

    ~40 years later I still think it’s funny.

  19. Eidiom (En- ES language consultant)

    I work with Spanish and most of your examples could only be rendered in the way stated by Automatic Machine Translation. Lets take for example Fly in Leather = Vuela en cueros. Leather is cuero (without the s) in Spanish. I dont think any Spanish speaker, whether a professional translator or not, could make such mistake :-)
    So are top companies so foreing-language challenged that they really thought a Google translation could replace a human? :-)

  20. MartinW

    Similar to “Mist Stick”, the liqueur “Irish Mist” didn’t gain much traction when it was exported to Germany. Why would you buy Irish manure in bottles?
    BTW, “Mist Stick” also sounds suspicously like the German word “Miststück” (b*tch).

    The Chevy Nova thing I thought was an urban myth?



    1. Duder

      Nova or No Va

      Va – Spanish Verb “To Go”

      No Va ==> Doesn’t Go

  21. Bryan Coe - Localization Consultant

    There some good examples in the list. There’s one from Germany that I love.
    Pringles English campaign: “Once you pop you can stop.”

    German: “Einmal gepoppt nie mehr gestoppt.”

    ‘gepoppt’ is derived from ‘poppen’ which is slang for having sex.

    So, the German version is saying “Once you have sex, you never stop”

    Pringles let this run for a long time. Haha

  22. McGroarty

    I was surprised that two similarly colorful examples didn’t make the list.

    Chevy “Nova” as “Doesn’t Go” in Spanish

    “Coca-Cola” as “Bite the Wax Tadpole” in Chinese

    But Snopes spoils everything…