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Hilarious Failed Advertising Slogans and Translation Accidents

Updated on January 22, 2014

Pepsi- Brings the Dead Back to Life!

"Come Alive, You're in the Pepsi Generation!"

This was a slogan used by Pepsi in the early 1960s and it was successful in the United States as hipsters found it to be "groovy." However, this slogan hurt sales in China due to a translation error from English to Chinese. According to Snopes.com, the jingle which says:

"There's a whole new way of living,

Pepsi helps supply the drive.

Its got a lot to give,

To those who like to live.

'Cause Pepsi helps em come alive,

Its the Pepsi Generation

Comin' at ya,

goin' strong.

Advertising executives released this advertisement in Chinese without a careful examination into the translation details. There are many accounts into the translation of this slogan into Chinese which rejected Pepsi after the launch of the slogan including:

"Come out of the grave alive with Pepsi."

"Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead."

"Bring dead ancestors back from the dead with Pepsi Cola!"


Kentucky Fried Chicken

In Chinese, the direct translation of this slogan; "Finger Licking Good" is, "Eat Your Fingers Off."


Gerber Baby Food

As demonstrated in 2008 by a show called "Urban Legends", many third world countries do not require advertising slogans because most of the population cannot read. It is typical for many of the countries to create packaging with a photograph of the product on the outside of the bag. When missionaries from the United States and Britian donated "Gerber Baby Food" to tribes in Africa, the tribes people were appalled and terrified upon viewing the jars of baby food. People in third world countries are also terrified of American bags of dog and cat food.

Gerber is also the French word for vomitting.


Coca- Cola

The original Coca-Cola was spelled Ke-kou-ke-la when first introduced in China. First translations on cans of Coke were read, "Wax tadpole" and "Female Horse Stuffed With Wax." Initial sales of Coke in China were poor because of the translation error.



Purdue Chicken

Perdue’s slogan, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” in an erroneous Spanish translation says on a Mexican billboard: “It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused.”

Ford Pinto

Ford automotive suffered from horrible sales of its Pinto in South America. After many cars were sent and marketed, the company discovered after intense market research that Pinto was Brazilian slang for “tiny male genitals”. Ford substituted Corcel as the new title, which means horse, however, people were reluctant to be caught driving one by then.


General Electric

In 1988, the General Electric Company and Plessey combined to create a new telecommunications giant. A brand name was desired that evoked technology and innovation. The new company name was: GPT, for GEC-Plessey Telecommunications. It was a very unsucessful ad campain in France as GPT is pronounced in French as “J’ai pété” or “I've farted”.

Starbucks

One of the most recent products listed, Starbucks has many advertisements for "lattes" all over the world. In Germany, the word "latte" translates into erection. Starbucks has removed several signs from German stores advertising a "morning latte break."


Irish Mist Liqueur

This popular brand of alcohol is sold in the United States and parts of Europe. It is unpopular in Germany as mist translates into "manure".


Pizza Hut P'zone

Pizza Hut launched a new calzone years ago named the P'Zone. It is pronounced like pezon, the Spanish word for "nipple". While these treats are yummy, many people would be embarrassed to order this in a resturaunt.


While some of these slogans and translations are open to interpretation and branding as urban legends, they are fun and entertaining.


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    • divacratus profile image

      Kalpana Iyer 4 years ago from India

      Haha! Good stuff

    • lifetips123 profile image

      Praveen P.V. Nair 4 years ago from Trivandrum

      Nice and excellent. Voted up and awesome

    • caseymel profile image

      caseymel 4 years ago from Indiana

      That is hilarious!

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks so much for reading pstraubie48!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      What a great way to begin my day....J'ai pele how long did it take that to be corrected??

      Thanks for sharing

      Sending Angels your way this morning. :) ps

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      That is very interesting Briefme. I hadn't heard of that one before. Thanks for sharing.

    • Wr1t3r profile image

      Melanie Mason 4 years ago from Oregon

      I'm still laughing. You could probably add in the advertising campaigns in the US that failed because of misspelled words. Thank you, very entertaining.

    • theweaksend profile image

      theweaksend 4 years ago

      Wow the P'Zone one killed me, that is hilarious! haha

    • Briefme2 profile image

      Briefme2 4 years ago

      Great hub! Laughed my chalupas off! Reminds me of a story many years ago. It wasJerry DellaFamina, one of the MadMen originals, whose advertising agency in the early 1960s, was asked to come up with a catchy sales pitch for a new product. The campaingn was for the "new" portable transistor radio, and his clients were the Japanese. Back then, World War II was still fresh in America's mind, so it was a touchy subject. Never one to beat around the bush, however, Della Famina proposed, "How about 'From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbor!'" It became the title of his memior which in turn became the bible of the Sterling-Cooper scriptwriters.!

    • DommaLeigh profile image

      DommaLeigh 4 years ago

      Boy do I understand translation problems. I am American and took a few trips over to England. Most people say, "So what, you both speak English. " WRONG! If they ask if you would like to be knocked up in the morning, don't be alarmed, they are not sending a male hunk to your room in the morning. What they where asking was if I needed a wake up call. If your car breaks down never ask an English man for a jump. It won't be your battery he would be looking at. I totally understand and it is very humorous.

    • Jmillis2006 profile image

      Jmillis2006 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Very funny, I had no clue there are so many translation errors in advertising , you would think companies would do better research.

    • bisnar6665 profile image

      John 4 years ago from Irvine, California

      Good stuff. Nothing wrong with a delicious nipple.

    • chinared profile image

      Just call me, Rick 4 years ago from Asia, and all over

      Great hub! I read in a ESL text that Chevy "Nova" in Spanish means "Doesn't run". Good job, very entertaining indeed.

    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 4 years ago from Worcester

      Very entertaining Hub Tammy.I enjoyed it.

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 4 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Thanks for the laugh. This was great!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

      A very enjoyable read. Voted up and funny.

    • Theophanes profile image

      Theophanes 4 years ago from New England

      I will never look at baby food the same way again. Hilarious. Thanks for the laugh.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Unintended consequences. Great idea for a hub! One of my favorite things to do at the World of Coke here in Atlanta is to tour all the old advertisements. It's a fun walk down memory lane.

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 4 years ago from Athens, Greece

      "Eat Your Fingers Off," big lol!

      Pretty cool hub here :)

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This is just too funny! Reading this was a great way to start my day! I would never have thought how some slogans would translate in other countries. This is a great hub, I can't wait for my hubby to get up so I can show it to him! Voting up, interesting and funny! :)

    • petenali profile image

      Pete 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Wow, I posed the question last week on Hubpages, asking what was people's first beverage in the morning. Now I'm a little surprised that more people didn't say "latte"!!

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 4 years ago from USA

      Howdy Tammy (tammyswallow) -

      This is a very enjoyable "look back" and translations like these show that many otherwise smart marketers are too dumb to "do things right."

      It goes in both directions, be assured. I got a very polite letter from a Mexican company one time that was written in English that someone in that Mexican company had translated - probably using some computer program to do the translating. The addressing line was supposed to read, "(Greatly, Very, or Highly) esteemed sir" but it was written as "Much estimated Mister."

      If you try some of those "translation" programs on some stuff, you'd be surprised at what comes out at the other end.

      Gus :-)))

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      What funny translations! I especially like the Ford Pinto one. Ha!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi tammy,

      How'd I miss this great hub? This was really fun and Interesting! Just shows you how damaging words can be when translated! Some of these are hysterical! Loved the latte in Germany and then Thelma's comment above walking right into it unknowingly! great hub, voted up, funny, interesting, shared , pinned and tweets :-)

    • dghbrh profile image

      deergha 4 years ago from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!!

      LOL.....I am really laughing and I am in office. People around me looking at me as for them I am laughing without a reason. Can't help though.....ha ha ha...awesome hub. Votes up funny and shared.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      hey tammy thanks for this article.

      it was quite funny and very interesting.

      thanks for the read

      Voted up

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      Hahaha...This is really funny Tammy. It reminds me when I was new in the cafeteria in Germany where I was working. My workmates asked me what would I like to drink at break time. I said, " I would like to have a hot latte this morning for a change" and my workmates were laughing so loud. I did not understand at that time why. Then they explained it to me. Funny, is it not? Thanks for sharing. Voted up and shared;-)

    • carlajbehr profile image

      Carla J Behr 4 years ago from NW PA

      Funny stuff! My brother is a translator in Japan - he shares some funny stuff with us that is ...lost in translation.

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 4 years ago from Atlanta

      Tammy this is hilarious stuff here. I keep saying you can search the whole internet, and never find a place like hubpages. I was cracking up, how did you find these slogans. I was on my bed with my laptap, and I just rolled over and starting laughing. Voted up and funny!

    • drsarajohnson profile image

      drsarajohnson 4 years ago from Spokane Valley, Washington

      Interesting hub, love watching the international ads!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana

      Awesome hub - love the slang translation for the Ford Pinto. This had to be a fun hub to research!

    • renegadetory profile image

      Carolyn Dahl 4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

      This is a great hub! I had a good laugh over some of those translations. I had to tell my husband about the lattes in Germany, we shared a laugh over that one!

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Very funny ! :-))) I appreciate the effort of translating.

    • chlxee profile image

      Chloe West 4 years ago from Charleston

      These are so funny! How unfortunate for some of those companies! I could imagine being scared of baby, dog, and cat food if that's what I thought was in the package, too!

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for sharing that billdo1603. I may have to include that one. :)

    • billd01603 profile image

      billd01603 4 years ago from Worcester

      Funny Hub. Thanks for the laugh!

      I've also heard that the Chevy Nova had to be renamed in South America. Nova translates into "no go"

    • Rain Defence profile image

      Rain Defence 4 years ago from UK

      You know what I think 'Eat Your Fingers Off' is actually quite a good slogan for KFC. It shows that you're going to be ramming it in that fast that you may just eat your fingers. Makes it sound quite tasty!

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Hahaha! I just can't understand why the Purdue Chicken didn't take-off! And those poor people thinking they were buying jars of babies and pets!

      This was such a fun hub. Loved all the information and the great laughs!

    • Tamigl profile image

      Tami R Glasco 4 years ago from Upper Marlboro. MD

      Those are great....I can only imagine how the natives looked when they saw those jars of baby food!!!

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks so much for stopping by Rolly. It is always great to see you. :)

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Tammy... thanks for the laugh here tonight... I can see where it may happen if you fail to do your homework in the advertising department... lol... up and away all across the board.

      Hugs from Canada

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for sharing. This kind of humor really makes me chuckle. Have a Pepsi. :)

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 5 years ago from Paris via California

      Hilarious, just voted up and shared with friends and family.

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      I am glad you chuckled Tycoon Sam. Have a Pepsi on me.

    • TycoonSam profile image

      TycoonSam 5 years ago from Washington, MI

      Very Funny! Thanks for making me smile.

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      That is funny Realhousewife. I am sure that there are many people who would eat a McNasty.. LOL. Thanks for your visit!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Tammy I was ROTFL! Oh my gosh that is hilarious! This was a super awesome, clever funny hub. I totally loved it!

      I heard there was a little glitch once when they started selling the McTasty at McDonalds - some advertisement flashed "McNasty" somewhere! lol

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks JayeWisdom. I found these to be really funny too.. especially the one about Pepsi.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Hilarious, tammyswallow! I love funny hubs that make me laugh out loud. Knowing that these aren't just jokes, but real mishaps, makes them all the funnier.

      Jaye

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting Molometer. It is always wonderful to see you and your sense of humor. :)

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Just what I needed as I was off to bed, lmao this is hysterically funny and even more so because it's true. Failed advertising attempts big time lol.

      Epic is the word I'm looking for. I was just going to have a 'latte', but now I'll be 'up' all night. : )

      Every buttons poked and prodded, sharing this truly funny hub, well done Tammy.

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks mollymeadows! :)

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      Rofl, Tammy! I love it!

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks so much for reading Lyn.Stewart. I chuckle every time I see a dog food bag. :)

    • Lyn.Stewart profile image

      Lyn.Stewart 5 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      lmao well I never knew this but thank you for making me laugh till my sides hurt.

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for reading Healthy Pursuits. I want my kids to drink lots of Pepsi after I die so I can come back from the dead. LOL. Thanks for your comment and the giggle. :)

    • Healthy Pursuits profile image

      Karla Iverson 5 years ago from Oregon

      Thanks, Tammy, for the morning laugh! I remember the Nova blunder, but didn't know about most of the others. I love the Starbucks problem. Gotta watch translating when every language has its own slang! (I'll remember to speak French the next time I pass gas. It has so much more panache when you say it in French.)

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Some of these are just unimaginable. Thanks so much for stopping by justateacher!

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks rahul0324! It amazes me too how bad some of these translate and how no one in the upper ranks caught them. I appreciate your visit.

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      This is funny! Too bad these companies didn't translate things correctly...think how much money they must have lost!

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      LOL! hehe! Crazy accidents eh! Interesting and funny hubs!

      Noteworthy to see the Leading companies and franchises around the globe committing these minor blunders and facing non-profitable results! LOL again

      up! :) rahul

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Alocsin! Makes you wonder how these people that pay so much to create these slogans miss these! I appreciate your visit!~

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Points out some of the perils of translation. This becomes pretty obvious once you travel around the world and see all the "English" signs. Voting this Up and Funny.

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you Thoughtsandwiches,

      I think I remember that slogan from when I was little. I remember an old man in a hard hat saying that. It is a BAD slogan to begin with. I get the biggest kick out of these things. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Tammy...

      This a funny ass list! Thanks for putting it together! This was my favorite:

      Perdue’s slogan, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” in an erroneous Spanish translation says on a Mexican billboard: “It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused.”

      ?...Regardless of the messed up translation...I'm thinking the original slogan is a bit odd, as well.

      Thanks,

      Thomas

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for your comment Vox. It really cracked me up too. Thanks so much for your comment!

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Alecia,

      I wonder that too.. especially if they are going to pay so much money for these slogans and advertising.. Thank you for reading!

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 5 years ago

      Unbelievable! The Pepsi example is the most interesting (in my opinion) and the GPT example the funniest :) Great hub!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I don't know why people don't pay to get a real translator. That's essential to good business, knowing how to be marketable. Great hub!

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you Lord.. Hope it made you chuckle. I appreciate the read my friend!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Great compilation my friend, especially 'Pezon',Lol!

      I learned more tonight! excellent research. Voted up!

      LORD

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Alissa! Stuff like this just cracks me up.. I still don't know if I want to come out of my grave alive with a Pepsi. They need to specify what condition a person comes out.. hmmm.. Thank you so much for coming by!

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 5 years ago from Normandy, TN

      Thanks for the laugh! Had to share a few of these with my husband who was wondering why in the world I was laughing at the computer. Great hub - voted up, funny, and awesome!

    • hardinflash profile image

      hardinflash 5 years ago from Montana

      Who doesn't need want a hot steaming cup of erection in the morning?

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi RV.. that would be a very interesting photo to say the least.. or.. Chicken Nuggets?? Hahaha.. You crack me up!

    • RVDaniels profile image

      RVDaniels 5 years ago from Athens, GA

      That is hilarious! Wonder what they'd make of fish fingers?

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you Prasetio! I am always glad to see you. I appreciate your kind comments.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      This was funny hub. I had never heard about these before. You have done a good researches in collecting these information. Thanks for share with us. Rated up!

      Prasetio

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Patti.. I feel honored that you like it!

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      Your welcome.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from North America

      I'm laughing in the library...people are staring...

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Dahoglund. Advertising has had its share of bloopers. I remember when I was a young child, a commercial kept coming on tv. Two woman were sitting on a park bench talking about not feeling fresh. A woman whips out some Massingel (?). My little and brother did not understand what they were talking about and my embarrassed mother tried to explain it. My young brother could not understand why women would use a douche in the park. Oh, you gotta love it.

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you Man With No Pants. These are just some things I find very interesting over the years. I am honored to be your followee and I thank you for your kind words!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I wish I could remember some of the stories from an advertising course i took years ago.Every occupation has its folklore, I think.

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 5 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Where'd you get this stuff? It's fantanstic and funnier than hell. I'm a semi retired marketing guy (which eplains my hub name)and I didn't know about one of these. Well, you just got yourself a new follower and I don't follow just anybody. Excellent job my sister!

      jim

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you Stigma. I appreciate the visit. These things tickle my funny bone. That is funny because I have an electrolux..:)

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Linda.. Thank goodness your friend did not have a pinto.. lol. Thank you for stopping by and for the nice comment!

    • Stigma31 profile image

      Stigma31 5 years ago from Kingston, ON

      Good article...always like a good advertising mishap. A good Scandinavian translated into english slogan was " Nothing sucks like an electrolux"...I remember the commercial when I was young....voting up!

    • Linda Compton profile image

      Linda Compton 5 years ago from The Land of Enchantment

      Very funny, and fun, hub. Thanks for sharing it. I also heard that about Chevy Nova from a Hispanic friend of mine who drove one and got teased about it. Finally traded it in for an Impala. Happy hubbing! Cheers, Linda

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Gail. I appreciate you stopping by!

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 5 years ago from Mason City

      Great hub and very interesting. It's interesting that some words have different meanings in different countries.

    • tammyswallow profile image
      Author

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      No go, that is really funny. Thank you for stopping by!

    • Ramsa1 profile image

      Ramsa1 5 years ago from A citizen of the World

      Great Hub. And funny. I wouldn't be caught dead in a Pinto in Brazil. It turned out to be a dangerous lemon anyway. I read somewhere that the Chevy Nova was a bust in Latin America because "no va" in Spanish loosely translates as "no go".

      To be honest, I would order some of the other stuff in the foreign lands, but I'm not going to say which ones.