It often turns out that the same goods or services offered meet with success in one country while sales go poorly in another. It is not the fault of a specific manager in such cases. The company probably used a translation agency that did not specialize in marketing translations. But even a very good translator cannot be competent in every field.
Marketing translations require a creative approach, because a word-for-word translation from the source language can result in an incorrect understanding of the meaning of advertisements or instructions on account of wordplay.
The staff of our translation agency includes translators that specialize in translating advertisements, instruction manuals and directions for use for groceries and technological goods, as well as other printed texts used in marketing. Our translators make every effort to skillfully utilize the nuances of the target language in order to ensure that the meaning of the source text is not distorted. Our agency’s translators will stay in constant contact with you while your marketing translation project is being worked on to ensure a high quality translation for your project.
Examples of unprofessional translations.
One example is when renowned company General Motors suffered a fiasco trying to put out its new car, the Chevrolet Nova, on the Latin American market. They quickly found out that “No va” means “won’t go” in Spanish.
The slogan “Turn it loose!” was used for an advertisement for Coors beer in the U.S. A literal translation of the slogan into Spanish led to this masterpiece: “Suffer from Diarrhea”.
Perfume Company Clairol introduced its dry deodorant in Germany under the slogan “Mist Stick”. But they quickly found out that the word “Mist” means “manure” in German slang.
Colgate-Palmolive put out its new toothpaste, “Cue”, on the French market. A little later, the Americans found out that a popular French porn magazine had exactly the same name.
Pepsi translated its main advertising slogan, “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation”, word-for-word to Chinese. The Chinese were shocked: the slogan suddenly sounded like this, “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”.
Coca-Cola could not pick out its name for sales in China for a long time. The thing is that the Chinese pronounce the name of the beverage, “Kekukela”, which means “bite the wax tadpole”. The company was forced to go through 40 thousand variations of the spelling of its trade name before “kekoukele” was chosen, which means “let your mouth rejoice”.
Frank Purdue, a famous American producer of chicken products, used the slogan “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken” in the U.S. This phrase took on a rather different meaning when it was translated into Spanish: “It takes a sexually aroused man to make a chicken affectionate”.
Parker, an office accessories producer, also tried to translate its slogan into Spanish. Its advertisement in English was: “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”. The translator made a mistake and mixed up two Spanish words. The result was that Parker’s advertising campaign in Mexico went under the slogan, “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
American Airlines put leather seats in its planes and decided to let Mexican customers know about it. The slogan sounded fine in English: “Fly in Leather”. This expression took on a different meaning when it was translated literally: “Fly Naked!”
Gerber, a producer of children’s goods, started selling baby food in Africa. A laughing baby was on the cover. Later, Gerber’s marketing experts discovered to their astonishment that, because a lot of people are illiterate in Africa, it is standard practice to put a picture of the contents on the packaging of local goods. For example, a picture of hot cereal is placed on the packaging of corn flakes. That’s why illiterate Africans were confused.
Marketing translation is very specific, so if you want to be successful in international business, printed information intended for another country needs to be translated exclusively by professionals specializing in marketing translations. Our translation agency would be happy to work together with you!
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