Marketing Blunders

The following section is about those mistakes that businesses made due to insufficient research before launching their brand/product in a foreign market.

  • When automobile manufacturer Mitsubishi launched its “Pajero 4WD” in Spain they forgot to bear in mind the word Pajero means jerk in Spanish.
  •  The KFC’s slogan “finger-lickin good” when marketed in China was translated “eat your fingers off.”
  •  When Puffs tissue launched their tissues in Germany they did not know that Puff means brothel in Germany.
  • An Italian mineral water company promoted their mineral water “Traficante” rather unsuccessfully in Spain as Traficante means drug dealer in Spanish.
  • The Bacardi fruit drink “Paviane” was supposed to suggest French chic, they were not aware of the fact that in Germany the same word meant Baboon.
  • What was Electrolux thinking when translating their slogan into English that read “Nothing sucks like Electrolux.”
  • Car Manufacturer Ford failed to successfully launch its car “Pinto” in Brazil – the word Pinto is slang for small penis in Brazil.
  • Parker pens slogan “Avoid Embarassment – use Quink,” was incorrectly translated into Spanish and came out as “Avoid pregnancy – use Quink.”
  • In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” came out as “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.”
  • Clairol was probably not aware that mist in Germany is slang for manure when introducing their curling iron “Mist Stick” into Germany.
  • When American Motors tried to market its new car, the Matador, it did not prove very popular in Puerto Rico as in this Hispanic subculture Matador means killer.
  • We know it as knapsack or backpack, in Germany, they call it a Body Bag
  • The successful campaign in this country“Got Milk?” was also taken to Mexico, however, after a translation error the message read “Are you lactating?”

Hence, it is absolutely imperative to verify that your brand or company name and the names of your products are apposite for the language and culture of your target market, before you launch your product or service. Brand/Product name checking assignments involve the examination of prospective brand names, which a company is seeking to introduce in a particular market. The names must not only be appropriate linguistically but also culturally, this requires exhaustive analysis for the intended market as different regions and different dialects mean that a product name that works for one part of the market might be totally inappropriate for the neighbouring province. Tongue Tied uses native-speaking translators, currently living in the target market with experience in the business and marketing sector to convey comprehensive linguistic assessments of your product, brand and company names.

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