The Lighter Side
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven!
The Super Bowl is just around the corner and that means the big game, but of interest to many more than the game are the new commercials that debut during these three hours, spots costing millions of dollars. This mega-event is not just for the United States but broadcast to at least 187 countries around the globe. With these broadcasts advertisers have to be careful of their translation or else they could truly be in for major faux pais problems such as the ones below which we bring you today for a chuckle or too, maybe even a guffaw over the faux pais.
Combustible commercials causing comic commotion
- 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).
- 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.
- 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".
January 21, 1998 volume 9, no. 15   DAILY CATHOLIC - The Lighter Side