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Marketing Mess-ups (these will make you laugh)

DeniseMMDeniseMM subscriber Posts: 6
edited March 2007 in Marketing
You think you got problems?  Imagine the egg on the face of these marketing and advertising directors when they discovered these mess-ups when transferring an adveritising headline or slogan in American English to another language?
1. Coors put its slogan, "Turn it loose," into Spanish where it was read as "Suffer from diarrhea."
2. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.
3. 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."
4. When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the beautiful Caucasian baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of what`s inside, since most people can`t read.
5. Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.
6. 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).
7. Pepsi`s "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" translated into "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave", in Chinese.
8. 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 a chicken affectionate."
9. 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." Instead, 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."
10.  And, in Mexico, after a year of awful sales Chevrolet discovered back in the 1970s that "Nova" the name of a popular car in the USA in Spanish means "does not go."
(Most of these came from a post by Mike Fesler on a network at ryze.com.)
Now, it`s easy for us to laugh at these because obviously there was a difference in language - poor translation going on.  But the lesson is true even within the US.  Very often words or ideas defined one way by one group are defined in a significantly different way by our ideal customers.  It`s critical that when we consider using a word that we consider how our ideal customer sees and interprets that word.
I have a first marketing mentoring meeting with a client in a couple hours.  I skimmed over her "Get Ready Assignment."  She`s a delightful woman and very well educated.  One of the things I`ve noticed is that she really plays up her educational background and the fact that she`s taught at the university level.  The disconnect is that her ideal customers are entrepreneurs and that particular group have a real disdain for anything "ivory tower" or "academic" or "theoretical."  What she views as an asset is probably being viewed by ideal customers as a detriment.  We`ll see.
All the best,
Denise MichaelsAuthor, "Testosterone-Free Marketing"Visit me at http://www.MentoringWithDenise.com</A>


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    ToddFToddF subscriber Posts: 3
    LOL, I love them. It takes me back to some very fond memories. I used to work at company called Extractor and sadly I must admit we sold spam software. But whenever anyone would send a message it automatically sent one to us. Man every Friday we would sit down and laugh at the poor ads that were sent out. Very similar to these but the ads were translated into English, it still makes me laugh.........mis-used words, typos, the list goes on and on. In all honesty I think maybe 1/100 had correct spelling.
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    DeniseMMDeniseMM subscriber Posts: 6
    Hi Todd:
    I don`t know if this can be verified or not - but I once heard that emails with a couple typos actually test better than emails without `em.  I can`t bear sending out something with a typo in it if I can help it.  It just breaks my ol` journalist`s heart. 
    After I posted this here at SuN somebody told me that not all of them are correct according to snopes.com   I KNOW the one about the Chevy Nova is correct because I studied that one in college.  Way back when.  I also know that the one about Perdue chicken is correct.  And I remember that Electrolux ad and thought, "Did I just hear what I THOUGHT I heard?"  I thought it was hilarious.  It certainly got my attention if I still remember it.
    Even if the person who compiled this list got a little "overly creative" the point is still a valid one - that our words and how they are perceived have power.
    I recently put a thread on an online forum for Virtual Assistants about the frequent and what IMHO is a mistaken use of the word "partner."  As in "we partner with you."  Call me crazy - but to me a partner is someone who shares in both the financial risks and rewards of a business venture.  And based on that definition - I`m not looking for a partner.  So even though I use the services of VAs, I would probably avoid one who said that she`s my partner in a tagline or something. 
    Omigosh, you would`ve thought I`d just said that I was Hannibal Lechter and I like babies with fava beans and a nice Chianti or something - so virulent was their opposition to my suggestion that one particular word may not be working for them in their copy.
    Sure enough I went back to my own network and said, "Am I crazy here or what?" and stated my thoughts about that word and copied and pasted a couple of taglines where they said something like "We`re your business partner" or something close.  Every one of the respondents on my network said that it was a turn off to them.  So I wasn`t nuts after all. 
    But the VAs are still avoiding me.   
    All the best,
    Denise Michaels, Author, "Testosterone-Free Marketing"
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