Ad slogans that got lost in translation

Mad Men's Donald DraperIf you've never come home from a Spanish holiday clutching a packet of Bum crisps, you haven't lived. Much can be lost, or gained, in translation and that can cause all kinds of problems for budding Donald Drapers. Here are some great examples of the pitfalls that await.
  • Parker Pens: The slogan "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you" was translated in Mexico by wrongly using the word "embarazer", and so became "It won't leak in your pocket and impregnate you".
  • Electrolux: The Scandinavian firm's slogan meant something rather different when it was used to tell American consumers "Nothing Sucks Like an Electrolux".
  • General Motors: The Nova is a very successful model for GM, and so naturally the company wanted to launch it in Mexico. Unfortunately, in Spanish 'no va' means 'It doesn't go'.
  • Pepsi: It's not just straight translation but nuance that lays in wait for the unwary copywriter. When Pepsi unleashed it "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" slogan in China it translated as "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead".
  • Clairol: The company's Mist Stick curling iron proved rather unattractive when offered to the German market. It turns out 'mist' in slang for manure.
  • Wang: In the 1970s, American computer firm Wang required some explanation of why it's successful slogan would not work in the UK. The slogan? Wang Cares.
  • Some products do surprisingly well in spite of unfortunate names. In Australia, Nad's hair removal products are very popular, despite nads being slang for testicles.
And finally: Ford: The US car giant almost suffered a similar misfortune to GM when the Pinto was launched in Brazil. No Brazilian man would want to own a "small penis", so contrary to popular myth the name was vetoed and the car was marketed as the Corcel.
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