Even the greatest names in advertising occasionally make little but humorous errors. Everybody has a favourite set of advertisements that they like seeing repeatedly. Sometimes we become so enamoured with the commercials that we learn the phrases or songs by heart. But what actually distinguishes a commercial? Is it the item being displayed or the catchphrase?
Are these catchphrases what sells or fails to sell a product? It is the way that these advertisements may appeal to people and convince them to buy the products. While advertisements can occasionally be humorous in English, they can be quite strange in another language. Let’s look at the ten strangest translations of advertisements.
Coca-Cola, one of the most well-known brands of carbonated beverages, had a roaring laugh as they began to rule China. The brand’s original pronunciation in the nation was “ke-kou-ke-la,” which means “bite the wax tadpole,” as can be seen below. This was plainly absurd and had nothing to do with the beverage. It was also written as “female horse packed with wax” in another dialect. That is hardly what we anticipate when we open a cold Coke can, in my opinion.
They made the decision to modify the phonetic to “ko-kou-ko-le” after seeing that the translation was confusing. Although it sounded identical, the situation’s absurdity remained the same. This phrase means “happiness in the mouth,” which is somewhat what we would anticipate from Coca-Cola but might possibly be related to anything from “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
The masters of pens, Parker, have been around for a while and have virtually always prevailed. I did say almost, after all. Their catchphrase during advertising for their line of leak-proof pens was “It won’t spill in your pockets and disgrace you.” True enough for the majority of users, and understandable for all English speakers.
However, guess what you get when you translate that remark into Spanish? It won’t cause you to become pregnant by leaking into your pocket. I’m not sure what else could be more perplexing if that. When you have a Parker pen, why do you need contraceptives? As a globally recognised company, Parker couldn’t figure out what went wrong, so they just updated it to make things simpler for everyone.
8. Braniff Aviation
Exclusive leather chairs were introduced for first class passengers solely by Braniff Airlines in 1977. “Fly in leather” was the tagline they came up with to entice travellers. All regular flyers will find it to be devilishly direct and enticing in English. People anticipated the highest level of comfort from one of the top airlines in the world, and they received it.
The corporation, however, got a big chuckle out of the phrase when it was translated into Spanish and read “Vuela en cuero” or, for those who know English, “Fly nude.” Obviously, this wrecked chaos on the airways, but happily no one changed into their birthday suits while travelling. Although we are aware that airlines aim for the highest levels of comfort, what they gave in Spanish would be a quantum leap.
7. Ford Pinto
Ford has always been a leader in the automotive industry, and they continue to be so today. In order for the majority of people to enjoy the luxury of having an automobile, they initiated the age of inexpensive cars. However, even the finest are prone to error. Ford released the tiny, best-selling Pinto in 1971. Although the automobile was a hit in the US, the manufacturer found a very poo sale rate in Brazil.
They were baffled as to why this was taking place until they learned that Pinto, in Brazilian Portuguese, meant “little male genitalia.” Who would want to purchase it, then? Even more perplexing was the fact that Ford, a manufacturer of automobiles, was selling “Pinto.”
Puffs is one of the most well-known tissue brand names and is quite popular in the US. They made the decision to export the product to the rest of the globe after realising how well it was selling domestically. It was a great concept up till the product reached Europe, specifically Germany. Here, the enterprise encountered a roadblock. In German, the word “Puff” is another name for a brothel or whorehouse.
There is no need to emphasise that unlike in the rest of the globe, the product did not immediately become popular. A term with a similar pronunciation called “Pouf” is also slang for “gay” in England. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to use it to wipe your face.
Another fantastic tale from China involves fizzy drinks once more. This time, it’s Pepsi, another titan in the beverage industry and Coca-main Cola’s rival. Their original tagline when they introduced their campaign and product in China was “We restore you back to life.” It was novel and seemed really energising.
However, it has a different connotation in Chinese that actually terrifies people. Their tagline reads, “We bring your forefathers back from the cemetery.” scary, humorous, or eagerly anticipated? Your decision, but reading anything like that is clearly not comparable to drinking a soft drink. Pepsi made the decision to go for it since they knew it would boost awareness of their company.
Do you know the song “Got Milk”? If you have, you are aware that it was one of the American Dairy Association’s largest advertising efforts. Within days, the advertisements became viral, and the corporation was able to expand their campaign into several nations as a result of their success. Those two straightforward sentences became into three incredibly private words when “Got Milk” was released in Spanish-speaking nations.
The Spanish-language phrase, “Are You Lactating,” angered some ladies but also made the business smile. Although there are some connections between the two mantras, the latter is a touch more intimate than most ladies would want.
Clairol was doing quite well in the United States of America as a hair product firm. The fact that they provided high-quality goods at fair pricing was the explanation. Due to this success, they released a curling iron in 2006 under the name “Mist Stick,” which was a huge hit in the nation. However, the product didn’t do as well in Germany as they had anticipated.
The word “Mist” apparently implies “manure” in German. In essence, the “manure stick” was being sold in cosmetic stores all throughout the nation. What would someone actually use one of them for, and who would want one? Really funny when you envision it.
One of the largest corporations in the United States and the rest of the globe is Coors, which produces beer. Almost every restaurant, bar, and shop sells their beer. Sadly, only native English-speaking nations were exposed to their advertising, despite the fact that their tagline, “Turn it Loose,” was a tremendous hit in the nation.
When they performed “Turn it Loose” in Spanish-speaking nations, they just left behind the lyrics “Suffer from diarrhoea” (not literally). Nevertheless, according to some, the Spanish translation isn’t too off from what they understand from drinking Coors. Whatever the case, Coors was compelled to replace it right away since they had not anticipated something of that nature.
Since we began this list in China, it only seems sense to conclude it there as well. The first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in the nation debuted in Beijing in 1987. They were “fast food kings,” and they knew it would be a smash right away. With their catchy motto, “finger licking excellent,” there was only one way to go: up.
But they were unaware that they would mistranslate the phrase into “We’ll Eat Your Fingers Off” in Chinese, which would be a grave error. The locals probably avoided KFC for a few weeks out of concern for their fingers. So that’s what Colonel Sanders had in his blend of exotic spices and herbs, then? It makes sense why it was never revealed.
These 10 companies thought that by including catchphrases in their products, they would gain further popularity, and in most cases, they succeeded. The only problem was that their advertising efforts ended up haunting them when they were translated into other languages.
Overall, some of the firms described above changed their slogans to better fit all nations, while others did not in an effort to garner more attention. So you can see that even the great guns sometimes make mistakes (sometimes in another language all together).