All brands dream of going global in our extensive interconnected marketplace, right?
To achieve that, businesses strive to reach diverse audiences across borders and cultures.
But do you know where the critical aspect of successful international marketing campaigns lies? It is in the accurate translation of advertising content.
However, the path to effective cross-cultural communication has multiple challenges and potential pitfalls. Today, we will talk about the fascinating world of translation fails in advertising, delving into the humourous, cringe-worthy, and often costly consequences that arise when linguistic and cultural nuances are lost in translation.
From unintentional double meanings to culturally insensitive errors, let’s ride through the captivating world of advertising mishaps, highlighting the importance of accurate translation and localisation in today’s interconnected world. Also, you’ll get to know why human translation turns out to be the critical factor in all aspects!
In Beijing, China, the renowned fast food empire, KFC, launched a grand promotional campaign to captivate the hearts and taste buds of the Chinese market. Little did they know that a seemingly minor error in translation would lead to a significant setback!
KFC launched their advertising campaign, proudly showcasing its well-known slogan, “Finger-lickin’ good.” However, in the process of translating this catchy phrase into Chinese, a costly error occurred. Instead of conveying the irresistible delight of savouring their food, the translation wrongly announced, “Eat your fingers off.”
Chinese consumers were left confused and sickened as the unfortunate slogan began circulating across billboards, television screens, and social media platforms.
KFC acknowledged the translation blunder and took the help of expert translators to accurately convey their food’s appetising appeal in the Chinese language.
Pepsi’s expansion into China in the 1960s brought a memorable advertising mishap. Their campaign’s slogan, “Come alive with Pepsi,” suffered a translation catastrophe.
In Chinese, it hilariously transformed into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.” The silliness of the message caused the entire promotion to flop, leaving Pepsi red-faced and lost in translation.
The renowned automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz introduced its brand with a localised label in China. However, they had no clue that this seemingly simple step would soon become an unforgettable tale of linguistic mishaps.
Mercedes-Benz unveiled its new label in China, proudly presenting itself as “Bensi.” Unfortunately, according to the company, a sophisticated and elegant name was an unexpected linguistic blunder. In Chinese, “Bensi” translated to a rather scary term: “rush to die.”
Instead of producing visions of luxury and quality, Mercedes-Benz unintentionally sparked connections with trouble and haste.
Social media platforms buzzed with witty remarks and memes as the unintended meaning behind the brand name created quite a stir. But Mercedes-Benz quickly realised the importance of linguistic accuracy and cultural sensitivity in their global marketing endeavours. Hope they rush-ed to human translation services asap!
American Airlines had a memorable mishap with its tagline translation. The English slogan, “Fly in Leather,” promoted their luxurious leather first-class seats. However, the Spanish version, “Vuela en Cuero,” meant “Fly naked.” The unintended invitation left Spanish-speaking consumers bewildered and chuckling.
This comical case reminds us of translation risks and the importance of cultural sensitivity. In a world where language nuances can make or break marketing campaigns, American Airlines learned the brutal way that even the smallest mistranslation could lead to hilarious consequences.
In Italy, Schweppes launched its “Schweppes Tonic Water” campaign, but a translation blunder turned it into “Schweppes Toilet Water.” It was a cringe-worthy mistake that left Italians with an unappetising brand name.
This blunder reminds us of the importance of accurate translations in advertising. The campaign took an unintended turn with a mere word change, generating more entertainment than interest.
The incident highlights the need for detailed attention to cultural and linguistic nuances when expanding marketing efforts internationally. Schweppes’ blunder serves as a cautionary tale, reminding brands of the threats that await those who underestimate translation’s power when going global.
In their quest to highlight the practicality of their product, IKEA ventured into the realm of humour. They created a cunning plan to capture customers’ attention, utilising the German language to their advantage.
Little did they know that their creative idea would result in uncontrollable laughter. Their piece of furniture was a table equipped with wheels, allowing for effortless mobility. Aptly named “Fährt,” a German word synonymous with “speed,” it emphasised the table’s swift movement. However, their genius plan backfired.
No one noticed the ergonomic wheels; instead, everyone burst out of laughter after reading the product’s name. Sorry IKEA, you created a source of endless amusement rather than admiration for your product.
Surprisingly, even prestigious brands are susceptible to significant translation errors! You observed how seemingly minor localisation errors can wreak havoc on the message, sales, and reputation of a brand.
This voyage through embarrassing and money-draining errors serves as an alarming reminder of the significance of adapting your content to the cultural nuances of your target market. Be vigilant next time!
Investing in expert human translation services could be the catalyst for massive cost reductions for your business, potentially in the millions!
When compared to the competitors, Translate By Humans stands head and shoulders above the rest – thanks to their superior team of native-speaking translators who are fluent in an astounding array of over 360 languages.
If you decide to entrust Translate By Humans with your worldwide business’s branding, you can be confident that your efforts will be met with nothing but success.
Want to see how our marketing translation experience can make a difference? Explore the fascinating world of human translation at Translate By Humans in greater detail by checking out our website.