10 Translation Fails to Prove the Need for Professional Services

There has been a host of ‘lost in translation’ episodes over the years and probably more to come. Many businesses have faced flak for their negligent marketing activities, and translation slip offs tops that list. Enlisted below are some of the most famous (or infamous?) translation failures by big shot enterprises that all the other businesses should learn from.

  1. When Mercedez Benz asks you to die

Mercedez Benz is a globally recognized automobile brand famous for its luxury vehicles. All hell broke loose when they entered the Chinese market with their brand identity named ‘Bensi’ which means “Rush to die”! However, they rectified their blunder and renamed it to ‘Benchi’ that meant ’Run quickly as if flying’.

  1. When Parker pen doesn’t want to make you pregnant

Premier writing instruments brand Parker wished to claim, their pen “won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.’ Unfortunately, in Mexico, it got translated to “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

  1. When Pepsi wants you to meet your ancestors

Pepsi never thought their slogan “Come alive! You’re in the Pepsi generation.” will be misunderstood by the Chinese people as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”

  1. When McDonald’s falls into the “double” meaning trap

One of the world’s largest chains of restaurant enterprise, McDonald’s never thought their catchline, “Double cheeseburger? I’d Hit it.” would be made fun of by the American youth who uses ‘Hit it’ as a common sexual slang.

  1. When KFC eats your finger off

In 1987, the locals in Beijing were flabbergasted when they read KFC’s slogan as “We’ll eat your finger off”. The brand just harmlessly wanted to reiterate their popular catchphrase “Finger lickin good”.

  1. When HSBC wants you to do nothing

Well, we know that Jon Snow knows nothing but that is not exactly what HSBC bank authorities wanted their customers to do. They had to pay big dollars to rectify their catchphrase “Assume Nothing” which was read as “Do nothing” in many countries.

  1. When Braniff Airlines wants you to fly naked

Braniff airlines also makes it to this list as their catchphrase “Fly in Leather” was mistranslated as “Fly naked” by the Spanish people in Latin America.

  1. When Schweppes sells you toilet water

Schweppes tonic water was ridiculed in Italy as their campaign was misunderstood as “Schweppes Toilet Water.”

  1. When Electrolux sucks

Scandinavian business giant Electrolux was not aware of the common English slang when they pitched their vacuum cleaner with catchphrase “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

  1. When Mitsubishi jerks around

When Mitsubishi launched their “Pajero” model in Spain, little did they know it means “jerk” in Spanish.

Funny as it is, but mistranslated catchphrases might not be that funny for your business. Get the right words for your marketing campaign in the global market by counting on professional translation services. 

Multilanguage Services offers the best professional translation services in Michigan. Learn more about their services here.

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