"It loses something in the original." --James Thurber
From "American Demographics" magazine: Here's a look at how shrewd
American business people translate their slogans into foreign languages.
- When Braniff translated a slogan touting its upholstery, "Fly in leather,"
it came out in Spanish as "Fly naked."
- Coors put its slogan, "Turn it loose," into Spanish, where it was read as
"Suffer from diarrhea."
- Chicken magnate Frank Perdue's line, "It takes a tough man to make a
tender chicken," sounds much more interesting in Spanish: "It takes a
sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate."
- When Vicks first introduced its cough drops on the German market, they
were chagrined to learn that the German pronunciation of "v" is f - which in
German is the gutteral equivalent of "sexual penetration."
- Not to be outdone, Puffs tissues tried later to introduce its product,
only to learn that "Puff" in German is a colloquial term for a whorehouse.
The English weren't too fond of the name either, as it's a highly derogatory
term for a non-heterosexual.
- The Chevy Nova never sold well in Spanish speaking countries. "No va"
means "it doesn't go" in Spanish.
- When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, they
translated their slogan, "Pepsi Brings You Back to Life" pretty literally.
The slogan in Chinese really meant, "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the
- When Coca-Cola first shipped to China, they named the product something
that when pronounced sounded like "Coca-Cola." The only problem was that the
characters used meant "Bite the wax tadpole." They later changed to a set of
characters that mean "Happiness in the mouth."
- A hair products company, Clairol, introduced the "Mist Stick", a curling
iron, into Germany only to find out that mist is slang for manure. Not too
many people had use for the manure stick.
- When Gerber first started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same
packaging as here in the USA - with the cute baby on the label. Later they
found out that in Africa companies routinely put pictures on the label of
what's inside since most people can't read.