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Mistakes in marketing translations :)
Thread poster: Bertha S. Deffenbaugh

Bertha S. Deffenbaugh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 11, 2002





Marketing translations



Cracking an international market is a goal of most growing corporations. It shouldn\'t be that hard, yet even the big multi-nationals run into trouble because of language and cultural differences. For example, observe the following examples below.



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 \"When smoking 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 won\'t go.\" After the company figured out why it wasn\'t selling any cars, it renamed the car in its Spanish markets to the Caribe.



When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to say \"It won\'t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.\" However, the company 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 Pope\'s visit. Instead of the desired \"I Saw the Pope\" in Spanish, the shirts proclaimed \"I Saw the Potato.\"



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



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







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Derek Smith  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:59
Italian to English
+ ...
Local examples Apr 11, 2002

Hi Bertha,

You\'ve quoted some of the big ones, but even on a local level here in Modena we had a conveyor belt manufacturer named ConMan right opposite Logos (until they went out of business for some reason); more recently, a company specialising in making summerhouses, toolsheds, and other wooden structures for the few lucky people with gardens, has been displaying its much admired products outside the local hypermarket. The name of these operators, for some inexplicably twisted reason, is \"Gardenles\". Right behind my house here there\'s another cool customer with a couple of big vans proudly flaunting the name SCAM in huge lettering on the sides, but I don\'t know what they\'re selling... Finally, a major national manufacturer of industrial wheels here in Italy has perversly chosen to call itself \"Ruincar\" (www.ruincar.it).

Most of these people aren\'t operating internationally I guess, but they always make me smile.

Maximum Respect

Derek


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Scott Li  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:59
Member (2005)
Chinese to English
+ ...
Chinese part Apr 12, 2002

I suspected that the Chinese part that you have found was due to poor back translation. Can you point out the link so as I can have a look.



Personally, the translation of Coca Cola \"ko-kou-ko-le\" is the most perfect product name translated into Chinese, not as your message indicated.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:59
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The Chevrolet Nova, as soon as it crosses the Mexican border Apr 12, 2002

no va.



Sorry, I was intending to edit this and can\'t. But here\'s more:



Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.





[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-12 03:32 ]


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:59
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Esso = Motor failure in Japaneese? Apr 12, 2002

I remember in the beginning of the sixties, when Esso changed their company name into Exxon, that ONE reason was that being a GLOBAL company they did not want to have a name meaning \'motor failure\' in the very important Japaneese market.

The intention was, that not only the company name should be changed, but the trade mark as well.

It never materialised.



Does anyone know the rest of the story?



Mats


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Bertha S. Deffenbaugh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I'm busting laughing, Cecilia! Apr 12, 2002


Nothing sucks like an Electrolux!



I remember a SONY Televisions ad years ago in Uruguay. Two guys inside a splendid mansion talking, and one of them said:

\"This is my house, this is my wife and this is my Sony\". There was almost a riot! [I was furious too!]

As sales went down so abruptly, the ad was immediately removed.

I don\'t know whether the ad was a literal translation of a japanese ad or not; but it certainly did not fit the uruguayan mind.


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Carlos Moreno  Identity Verified
Colombia
Local time: 06:59
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mitsubishi Pajero Apr 12, 2002

When the Pajero RV from Mitsubishi was to be introduced in South America, it had to be renamed to Montero, because Pajero suggests \"someone who masturbates frequently\". Montero means mountaineer.

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Bertha S. Deffenbaugh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Here's the link Apr 12, 2002

http://www.ahajokes.com/ethnic02.html



Let us know what you think, Euro.


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Scott Li  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:59
Member (2005)
Chinese to English
+ ...
Chinese part Apr 13, 2002

the link itself doesn\'t show any Chinese, so I can\'t tell more.



But for marketing slogans, back translation is almost impossible.



For sure, the Chinese translation of Coca Cola is really perfect,not as loose as the author mentioned.


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 06:59
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The Chevy Nova? El mito no va Apr 14, 2002

The well-known urban myth debunker known as \"snopes\" explains why the story of the Chevy Nova is purely apocryphal. (See http://www.snopes2.com/business/misxlate/nova.htm )



So, amigos americanos, is anyone old enough to remember the original 1960\'s Nova. Was it on the market in your country? Is it true what the article says? (Some excerpts from the article:)



\"This anecdote is frequently used to illustrate the perils of failing to do adequate preparation and research before introducing a product into the international marketplace. It\'s a wicked irony, then, that the people who use this example are engaging in the very thing they\'re decrying, because a little preparation and research would have informed them that it isn\'t true. (The sources that repeat this little tale can\'t even agree on where the Nova supposedly sold poorly, variously listing locales such as Puerto Rico, Mexico, South America, or simply \"Spanish-speaking countries.\") [...]



Between 1972 and 1978 the Chevrolet Nova was [...] sold in Mexico and several other Spanish-speaking countries, primarily Venezuela. Shortly afterwards the great \"Nova\" legend arose, a legend which a little linguistic analysis shows to be improbable. [...]



The truth is that the Chevrolet Nova\'s name didn\'t significantly affect its sales: it sold well in both its primary Spanish-language markets, Mexico and Venezuela. (Its Venezuelan sales figures actually surpassed GM\'s expectations.) The whole \"Nova = \"doesn\'t go\" tale was merely another in a long line of automotive jokes. [...]



The one bit of supporting evidence offered to back up this legend is spurious as well. General Motors, we\'re told, finally wised up and changed the model name of their automobile from Nova to Caribe, after which sales of the car \"took off.\" One small problem with this claim: the Caribe sold in Mexico was manufactured by Volkswagen, not General Motors. The Nova\'s name was never changed.\"





[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-14 01:29 ]

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-14 01:30 ]


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
An urban legend indeed... Apr 14, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-04-14 01:28, GoodWords wrote:

The well-known urban myth debunker known as \"snopes\" explains why the story of the Chevy Nova is purely apocryphal.





PT Barnum said it best.





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Marta Argat  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:59
Chinese to Ukrainian
+ ...
1. Characters unite the language. 2. Hunting for a proper word among 40 000 characters? Apr 16, 2002

Quote:


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,\"


Characters - either simlpified or \"old\" - mean the same in any dialect of the Chinese language. The dialects differ a lot, so the characters are read in different ways. (I\'d read this as ke-kou-ke-le, not ko-kou...) There are a few dialect characters one may count on the fingers of one hand (\"sha\" in dialects for \"shenme\" in Mandarin, for ex.), but those characters would scarcely be used in advertising.

Even keeping in mind that the same phrase may sound different in dialects and trying to preserve some phonetical similarity with the original English name in 8 or more variants (by the number of principal dialects), one will have a choice among a hundred of characters, but not thousands. Wouldn\'t a choice among 100 characters be a tough task for a localizer? It seems that the author just wanted to underline how many characters there are in Chinese.

Regards!

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-16 19:11 ]


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