It is important for companies to decode the market nuances not only on a local level but on a global scale as well, this is partly due to todays rapid growth regarding technological innovations and the growing important of social media. A vital aspect of advertising revolves around the culture of the target audience/market. Many international companies have had problems with expanding ad campaigns worldwide because they didn’t put in the effort to comprehend the culture. This has lead to many failed campaigns which oftentimes offended consumers and lead to lack of sales.
Examples of marketing translations that were unsuccessful and went wrong:
- The wildly successful “Got Milk” campaign from The Dairy Association brought a lot of attention when used in Mexico, it translated into: “Are You Lactating?”
- Pepsi in China translated their slogan, “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life.” The slogan in Chinese literally means, “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”
- Toothpaste under the brand name Cue was launched in France, though it happens to be the name of a pornographic magazine, diligently analysing and researching French culture could have easily avoided this situation. Nobody wants to associate his or her toothpaste with a porn magazine.
- Parker Pen in Mexico wanted its advertisements to say: “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.” Why not, I guess it all depends on what you look for in a pen.
- Pepsi lost market share in Southeast Asia when it changed its vending machines from deep blue to light blue, given that light blue is a symbol of death and mourning in Southeast Asia. I guess soda is much unhealthier than we had imagined…
Before releasing an ad in a certain country the minimum is to research the culture and check for any possible translation errors because massive amounts of money was probably invested into the campaign. This demonstrates how imperative it is to investigate and know your target audience before taking the initiative of making campaigns international.