International Ads Lost in Translation

 - Aug 7, 2007
As globalization spreads more rapidly, advertisers need to find way to market their brands in other countries. A key part of this is being able to translate a company's slogan and values. It's not always so easy, however, and the messages often get lost in translation.

The video is a good example of how language barriers can provide significant frustration.

The following are examples of ads that faced similar problems when translating to English:

When Matsushita Electric was trying to promote a new PC, it teamed up with Panasonic to make the internet system "user-friendly" and licensed Woody The Woodpecker to be its "Internet guide." The day before the ads were set to release, Panasonic realized they were about to make a huge mistake. The poor Japanese advertisers had no idea what kind of embarrassment they would have faced had they used their intended slogan: "Touch Woody - The Internet Pecker"

The Italians probably weren't too keen on trying Schweppes Tonic water when it first came out -- how refreshing does "Schweppes Toilet Water" sound to you?

KFC's classic "Finger-Lickin Good" was wrongly translated in Chinese to "Eat your fingers off."

"Chicken-man Frank Perdue's slogan, 'It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,' got terribly mangled in another Spanish translation. A photo of Perdue with one of his birds appeared on billboards all over Mexico with a caption that explained 'It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused.' Elsewhere, the slogan was translated into, 'It takes a virile man to make a chicken pregnant.'"