Hilarious Failed Advertising Slogans and Translation Accidents
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,
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.
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.
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 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.
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”.
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 restaurant.
While some of these slogans and translations are open to interpretation and branding as urban legends, they are fun and entertaining.