Actual Marketing Flops

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.”

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 Caribe.

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.

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.

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

 

Actual (Stupid) Label Instructions

In case you needed further proof that the human race is doomed through stupidity, here are some actual label instructions on consumer goods:

– On Sears hairdryer: “Do not use while sleeping”. [Gee, that’s the only time I have to work on my hair]

– On a bag of Fritos: “You could be winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside”. [Evidently, the shoplifter special]

– On a bar of Dial soap: “Directions: Use like regular soap.” [And that would be how…?]

– On some Swanson frozen dinners: “Serving suggestions: Defrost.” [But it’s *just* a suggestion]

– On Tesco’s Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom of box): “Do not turn upside down”. [Oops, too late!]

– On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding: “Product will be hot after heating”. [As sure as night follows the day…]

– On packaging for a Rowenta iron: “Do not iron clothes on body”. [But wouldn’t this save even more time?]

– On Boot’s Children’s Cough Medicine: “Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication”. [We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we could just get those 5-year-olds with head-colds off those forklifts.]

– On Nytol Sleep Aid: “Warning: May cause drowsiness” [One would hope]

– On most brands of Christmas lights: “For indoor or outdoor use only”. [As opposed to what?]

– On a Japanese food processor: “Not to be used for the other use”. [I gotta admit, I’m curious].

– On Sainsbury’s peanuts: “Warning: Contains nuts”. [NEWS FLASH]

– On an American Airlines packet of nuts: “Instructions: open packet, eat nuts.” [Step 3: Fly Delta]

– On a child’s Superman costume: Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly”. [I don’t blame the company. I do blame parents for this one!]