Lost in Translation: International Marketing
Amy | On 05, Nov 2015
What could be better than starting your day with a great laugh? Today we are sharing with you 5 well-known international companies that did their marketing in foreign countries, which lead them to an epic…. FAILURE.
Let’s have a look at what these international Marketing translations..
When Proctor & Gamble started selling in Japan, the Pampers Package had a stork delivering a baby to parents. While this ad successfully worked in America, it never did in Japan. As the company ran some researches, they figured that Japanese people did not understand the image and were left pretty confused. You know, it’s not really in Japan’s tradition or stories that a stork brings a babies to parents. So there it is, the story now goes that a giant floating bird brings babies to their parents. Isn’t that just amusing?
Sometimes it’s not the message that gets marketers in trouble in international locations. Occasionally it’s the product’s name that gets lost in translation. Remember the time where car manufacturer American Motors launched the new midsize car – Matador – in 1970 in Puerto Rico? They quickly managed to realize that the name did not actually mean strength and courage, as they intended.
In Spanish, “Matador” translates to “a bullfighter whose task is to kill the bull”, which, in a place that is filled with hazardous roads, didn’t really inspire a great deal of confidence in drivers.
Did you know, that the famous HSBC Bank was actually forced to rebrand its entire global private banking operations after bringing an American campaign abroad? No?
Well, in 2009 the global bank managed to spend millions to scrap its 5 year old “Assume Nothing” campaign. When the message was brought abroad, it was translated as “Do Nothing” in many countries. In the end, the bank spent $10 million to change their tagline to “The World’s Private bank”, which has a quite more friendly translation.
The Auto giant “Ford” found that in Belgium, enticing customers with a dead body in every car isn’t the best way to make sales. Ford launched an ad campaign in the European country that executives thought it said “Every car has a high-quality body”. Then of course, when this was translated, the slogan read said “Every car has a high-quality corpse”– which is far beyond the image they were hoping to raise.
Braniff Airlines got in quite a trouble when their campaign was translated.
In 1987, they started hyping its new leather seats south of the border with the same campaign that was running in the U.S.: “Fly in Leather”. When this was translated in Spanish, “Vuela en Cuero” was appropriate among much of Latin America, it had quite a different meaning when this reached Mexico. In Mexico the expression also means “Fly naked”. Again, a message far far away from what it was really intended to send.
We hope you had a great laugh with this article. Moral of the story: With human translators you can go a long way. As it is visible that translation systems, can’t really get the job done.
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