1. The Dairy Association's huge success with their campaign "Got
Milk?" prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon
brought to their attention the Spanish translation read "Are you
2. Coors put its slogan, "Turn It Loose," into Spanish, where it
was read as "Suffer From Diarrhea."
3. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following
in an American campaign: "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."
4. Clairol introduced the "Mist Stick," a curling iron, into
Germany only to find out that "mist" is slang for manure. Not too
many people had use for the "Manure Stick."
5. When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the
same packaging as in the US, with the smiling baby on the label.
Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put
pictures on the labels of what's inside, since many people can't
6. Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name
of a notorious pornographic magazine.
7. 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)
8. Pepsi's "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation" translated into
"Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave" in Chinese.
9. The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as "Kekoukela",
meaning "Bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with
wax", depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000
characters to find a phonetic equivalent "kokou kole",
translating into "happiness in the mouth."
10. 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."
11. 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." 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"
12. When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather
first class seats in the Mexican market, it translated its "Fly
In Leather" campaign literally, which meant "Fly Naked" (vuela en
cuero) in Spanish.
13. When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South
America, it was apparently unaware that "no va" means "it won't
go." After the company figured out why it wasn't selling any
cars, it renamed the car in its Spanish markets to the Caribe.
14. Also in Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan "finger-
lickin' good" came out as "eat your fingers off."
15. The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, "Salem – Feeling
Free," got translated in the Japanese market into "When smoking
Salem, you feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and
16. Ford had a problem in Brazil when the Pinto flopped. The
company found out that Pinto was Brazilian slang for "tiny male
genitals". Ford pried all the nameplates off and substituted
Corcel, which means horse.
17. In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the
name into Schweppes Toilet Water.
18. Japan's second-largest tourist agency was mystified when it
entered English-speaking markets and began receiving requests for
unusual sex tours. Upon finding out why, the owners of Kinki
Nippon Tourist Company changed its name.