02 Aug Lost in translation: when brand taglines don’t travel
These might be some of the most memorable brand taglines in English but when they cross oceans, they mean something entirely different. We searched the depths of the internet to find the best, or worst.
KFC and its 50-year-old slogan ‘finger licking good’ (which was dropped in 2011) is known all over the world. But when this fast-food giant opened its doors in China in late 1980’s, the translation of their tasty slogan didn’t seem quite so appetising, unless you were of Zombie origin or had cannibalistic tendencies…
The much loved American Coors beer had a little accident, pun intended, on the road to reaching its potential Spanish drinkers. It discovered that colloquial phrases do not always translate, as you would imagine.
We all know the wrongly quoted (and never documented) saying purportedly uttered by Henry Ford. The story goes, when referring to the Model T, he said “You can have any colour, as long as it is black”. Nice story but holds little validity. But what is not quite so well known is the Belgium ad campaign in which a translation mishap had made Ford look like an anatomical pathology technician (mortuary worker).
Pepsi launched an ad campaign back in the 60’s which was full of life and it felt it expressed the youth of their brand. The ad campaign ‘come alive you’re with Pepsi’ did extremely well around the globe, except in China, where sales had dropped significantly since the launch of the campaign. After a little investigating, they realised that the translation into Mandarin and Cantonese had a little more life in its meaning than desired.
Yet again Ford has made it into this list of disastrous marketing mishaps. This time round it was with their naming of the Ford Pinto. It can be forgiven that thinking that naming a car after a small bean would be a safe bet all round, but apparently not. The word Pinto in Brazil means something which most men would not like to associate themselves with, or admit to. Ford quickly re-branded the car in Brazil as the Corcel (meaning horse), which is a little more masculin.
Last on our list we have an explanation as to why there was the confusion with a Big Mac in France, highlighted in the hit movie Pulp Fiction. McDonald’s calls its flagship burger in France a ‘Royale With Cheese’. The reasoning behind this is not everyone would be lovin’ it as the translation in French comes out as ‘Gros Mec’.