Coors put its slogan, "Turn it loose," into Spanish, where it was read as "Suffer from diarrhea."
Clairol introduced the "Mist Stick," a curling iron, into German only to find out that "mist" is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the "manure stick".
Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.
The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, "Salem-Feeling Free", was translated into the Japanese market as "When smoking Salem, you will feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty."
When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the beautiful baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of what's inside, since most people can't read English.
Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.
An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope's visit. Instead of "I saw the Pope" (el Papa), the shirts read "I saw the potato" (la papa).
In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into "Schweppes Toilet Water."
Pepsi's "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" translated into "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave," in Chinese.
Frank Perdue's chicken slogan, "it takes a strong man to make a tender chicken" was translated into Spanish as "it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate."
When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, "it won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you". Instead, the company thought that the word "embarazar" (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant".
I also read that the premeire of the TV show "Joanie Loves Chachi" was rated #1 in Korea, as Chachi is Korean slang for "penis."
And then there was Savon Drugs changing their name to "Osco", which means something like "gross" or "disgusting" in Mexican Spanish. The particular irony here was that Hispanics were the single strongest demographic market share the company had.
Last modified: 11/26/1997