International Marketing

International Marketing – Actual Accounts

Cracking an international market is a goal of most growing corporations. It shouldnt be that hard, yet even the big multi-nationals run into trouble because of language and cultural differences. For example…

The name Coca-Cola in China was first rendered as Ke-kou-ke-la. Unfortunately, the Coke company did not discover until after thousands of signs had been printed that the phrase means bite the wax tadpole or female horse stuffed with wax depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent, ko-kou-ko-le, which can be loosely translated as happiness in the mouth.

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.

Also in Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan finger-lickin good came out as eat your fingers off.

The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, Salem – Feeling Free, got translated in the Japanese market into Whensmoking Salem, you feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty.

When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South America, it was apparently unaware that no va means it wont go. After the company figured out why it wasnt selling any cars, it renamed the car in its Spanish markets to the Caribe.

Ford had a similar problem in Brazil when the Pinto flopped. The company found out that Pinto was Brazilian slang fortiny male genitals. Ford pried all the nameplates off and substituted Corcel, which means horse.

When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to say It wont leak in your pocket and embarrass you. However, the companys mistakenly thought the spanish word embarazar meant embarrass. Instead the ads said that It wont leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.

An American t-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the spanish market which promoted the Popes visit. Instead of the desired I Saw the Pope in Spanish, the shirts proclaimed I Saw the Potato.

Chicken-man Frank Perdues 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.

Hunt-Wesson introduced its Big John products in French Canada as Gros Jos before finding out that the phrase, in slang, means big breasts. In this case, however, the name problem did not have a noticeable effect on sales.

Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno mag.

In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into Schweppes Toilet Water.

Japans second-largest tourist agency was mystified when it entered English-speaking markets and began receiving requests for unusual sex tours. Upon finding out why, the owners of Kinki Nippon Tourist Company changed its name.

and finally…

In an effort to boost orange juice sales in predominantly continental breakfast eating England, a campaign was devised to extoll the drinks eye-opening, pick-me-up qualities. Hence, the slogan, Orange juice. It gets your pecker up.

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