Helpful hint: If your company has a multi-cultural audience, a qualified translator is a great addition to the team. Spend your money here early rather than on cleaning up the mess that may ensue later on.
These days, for both international and domestic companies, it’s important to know your audience and the language they speak. Several companies’ products have failed to connect with a multi-cultural audience, not due to their poor performance or lacking appeal, but because of their name, message, and promotion. Not only does this cost companies big bucks, but can you imagine the embarrassment?
Speaking of embarrassment, when Parker Pen released one of its ball-point pens in Mexico its message was supposed to read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” The company thought that “embarazar” was the Spanish equivalent to “embarrass,” yet was quite mistaken when the ad translated to “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
Another Spanish translation blunder was suffered by General Motors who wanted to promote the Chevy Nova in South America. Sadly, the name Nova directly translates into “It doesn’t go.” What better name for a car than that, right?
It’s not just Spanish that’s giving marketers a tough time, though. In China, Pepsi tried to relay its message “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation.” It ended up translating into “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”
For something more scandalous, look to Colgate. It released a new toothpaste in France called Cue, which also happened to be the name of popular porn magazine.