The desire to go global with your brand is overwhelming. It means increased exposure and more revenue. One of the most essential steps in enhancing global brand awareness is engaging the services of translation agencies to recapture your messages in foreign languages. For these agencies, bringing the best out of such services at times becomes tricky. This explains existence of some of the world’s worst translation marketing errors in history. Have a look.
1. Pepsi’s Unbelievable Promise
Pepsi’s original slogan, ‘Pepsi brings you back to Life’, is a common one that nearly every person identifies with. When Pepsi wanted to translate this text into Mandarin, they hired out a translation agency which interfered with the original text. Instead of the intended meaning, the final Mandarin translation implied ‘Pepsi brings back your ancestors from the grave!’ Was Pepsi promising Life after death? Only the translators can tell.
2. Electrolux Mishap
In a bid to promote their newly designed vacuum cleaner, Scandinavia electrical giants hired out translators to rephrase their marketing slogan in English. The outcome was something like this: ‘Nothing sucks like an Electrolux’. The Ad for this vacuum cleaner ran in a couple of English speaking nations including Queen’s Land and United States. Although some people tried to convince the general audience that it was a deliberate error deigned to create comic relief, the advertisement did not achieve its intended goals.
3. Coca Cola’s Wax Madness
When the renowned drink ambassadors, Coca Cola first entered the Chinese market, there was lots of excitement among the local dealers. Efforts of translating the Coca Cola word into Chinese not only hit nags but also resulted to humorous translational errors. One of the translational messages implied ‘Female horse stuffed with wax. Yet another funny version of the same text was translated to mean ‘Bite the Wax Tadpole’.
Rumours later had it that the translations were only part of local shopkeeper’s advertisement materials. In their eagerness to communicate the arrival of Coca in China, they ended up with wax biting the tadpole and female horse being stuffed with wax. Whichever way it was, it became apparent the need for professional translation agencies when marketing a brand in a foreign language.
4. Schweppes Toilet Water?
While trying to market the famous Schweppes drink in Italy, one of the local translation agencies translated Schweppes Tonic Water to Schweppes Toilet Water. It was not only hilarious but also incredible taking into consideration the massive brand awareness strategies they have used
5. Braniff’s Naked Airline
When Braniff Airlines tried to promote the comfy feeling of its First Class airline seats among the Latin American audience, something awkward happened. The translation of Fly In Leather was reported by a local radio as Fly Naked! It turned out to be one of the funniest translation errors ever.
Nearly all the errors were results of local translators trying to express their prowess in the translation industry. The results obtained were nothing to be proud of, bringing us to one realization; involving professional translation services is the only sure way of getting it done right!
Andrew Wilberforce is an experienced blogger with special interests in languages, professional translations services, and media relations. For more information on related topics, click here.