Marketing campaigns are designed considering the target audience’s demographics, psychographics, and their expectations from a brand. Adapting the textual and imagery content for different regions to market is a part of localization. Sometimes localization works great and the other time when it doesn’t, the brand sees a massive fall in their market share.

There are a number of big global brands that have run successful marketing campaigns in their mother countries but failed in the International market. The local attitudes are different in every country, even if people speak English.

Following are the global giants who failed in translation –

1. Braniff International translated a slogan touting its finely upholstered seats “Fly in Leather” into Spanish as “Fly Naked.”

2. Coca Cola‘s brand name, when first marketed in China, was sometimes translated as “Bite The Wax Tadpole.”

3. Electrolux at one time marketed its vacuum cleaners in the U.S. with the tagline: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

4. KFC made Chinese consumers a bit apprehensive when “finger licking good” was translated as “eat your fingers off.”

5. Mercedes-Benz entered the Chinese market under the brand name “Bensi,” which means “rush to die.”

6. Parker Pen, when expanding into Mexico, mistranslated “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” into “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

7. Nike had to recall thousands of products when a decoration intended to resemble fire on the back of the shoes resembled the Arabic word for Allah.

8. Paxam, an Iranian consumer goods company, markets laundry soap using the Farsi word for “snow,” resulting in packages labeled “Barf Soap.”

9. Pepsi‘s slogan “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” was debuted in China as “Pepsi Brings You Back from the Grave.”

10. Coors translated its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish, where it is a colloquial term for having diarrhea.

Therefore we say, translation of the marketing content isn’t enough to market a brand in different regions. Brands should never ‘assume’ anything about a new market where they plan to sell. An extensive market research on the language, culture, demographics, psychology and, behaviour is advisable. This is why we support Localization using native translators.

Consult CMM Languages for your next Localization project on request @ cmmlanguages (dot) com.