So, here it is, April Fool’s Day. I thought about doing the same kind of thing as last year where I listed April Fool pranks that backfired, but I came across this list of lost in translation marketing campaigns. It’s too good to pass up. Some of these are oldies but goodies and others I hadn’t heard. So, enjoy!
1. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used this in an American campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”
2. Coors put its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish where its translation was read as “Suffer From Diarrhea.”
3. Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick” curling iron in German only to find out that “mist” is slang for manure.
4. When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as they did in the U.S., 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 because most people can’t read.
5. Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious naughty magazine. (insert oral joke here).
6. A now-defunct American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market during 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” was read as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave” in Chinese by billions of potential consumers.
8. The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as “Ke-kou-ke-la”, 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 “ko-kou-ko-le” translating into “happiness in the mouth.”
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.”
And, number ten…
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 a chicken affectionate.”
Happy April Fool’s Day, y’all. (Trust no one today).