- Posted by Stephen Whiteley
- On 17/01/2018
Bad translations can be very embarrassing. When businesses want to appeal to a global audience, they may want to get their ads translated into several different languages. Unless the translation is done properly, it could end up causing loss and embarrassment to the business. Most translation errors can be avoided provided the translation is done after properly planning it and executing it by a qualified translator. Here is a look at the worst translations of the last year (2017).
Schweppes is a famous brand that wanted to introduce its tonic water to an Italian market. However, its ad that read, “Toilet water is so mainstream, I prefer Bidet” ended up being translated as Schweppes Toilet Water.
Parker Pen Company
Second, the Parker Pen company wanted to impress its clients by promising its pens would not leak in the pocket and embarrass you. They wanted to translate this ad to Spanish for the Spanish market but ended up with a bad translation that ended up promising Spanish consumers that the Parker pen would never get them pregnant.
Slang words are often hard to translate. Coors soon discovered this when their Turn It Loose campaign was being translated for the Spanish market. When they got their punchline translated into Spanish, it ended up as Suffer from Diarrhea.
Got Milk? Campaign made waves in the English-speaking countries. However, when this ad was being translated for the Hispanic market it ended up creating a lot of confusion. Their ad was translated into, “Are you Lactating?”.
Ford is a well-known carmaker that has a global audience. When the company wanted to penetrate the Belgian market, they wanted their ad that said, “Every car has a high-quality body” was translated into “Every car has a high-quality corpse”. This was certainly a case of a bad translation.
HSBC started an ad campaign that said Assume Nothing. When this ad was translated into foreign languages, the tagline inadvertently read Do Nothing. This case of bad translation led to the scrapping of the ad campaign.
Mead Johnson Nutritionals
Mead Johnson Nutritionals manufactures infant formula. However, the company suffered a major embarrassment when its ad was translated. The preparation instructions were wrongly and badly translated leading to a too high dosage for the infant, which could have had disastrous consequences. Fortunately, this case of bad translation was caught in time before any infant lost their life.
Pepsi is another famous brand that wanted to penetrate the Chinese market. Its ad, “Come Alive with Pepsi” was badly translated. The translation of this ad read, “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead”. Another case of a bad translation!
Finally, there is the case of former Secretary of State of the US, Hillary Clinton present her Russian counterpart with a red button with the word, “Reset” on it. The idea was to improve relations between the two countries. However, the translation was so bad that the Russian Foreign Minister had to go out of his way to assure people the button only said OVERLOAD. This was a case of a bad translation that could have spoilt relations between the two super powers.