Welcome to Spook-tacular October!
October, the month of ghouls and goblins, ghosts and gremlins is here again! What was once a single day of childhood customs and sugar overloads has become a month-long celebration of monstrous fun for all ages. It’s also a month that features other unique holidays and celebrations. For instance:
World Egg Day
Global Handwashing Day
International Sloth Day
National Candy Corn Day
And for those of us who don’t celebrate one of those days or World Thrombosis Day, there’s certainly a day that fits the bill. A month of fear, of screams, of terror… and I’m not talking about Halloween. I’m talking about the disastrous outcomes of mistranslated corporate messaging! So abandon National No Bra Day and National Frappe Day for the moment and let’s go trick-or-treating through October’s Friday Funnies!
When Procter & Gamble introduced Pampers diapers in Japan, the packaging featured the image of a stork delivering a baby. Sales were poor and after some consultation with local P&G employees, the company found out that in Japan the fairy tale delivery method isn’t a stork but a floating peach that brings the baby to their parents!
Gerber entered the Ethiopian market to disastrous results. They didn’t consider local behavior and sold their baby food with the same labeling as they did in the US. Unfortunately, food labels in Ethiopia uniformly feature what’s in the container. This is to appeal to consumers with limited literacy. The smiling baby on the Gerber labels suggested jars of infant remains!
Vicks really blew it when launching their cough drops in Germany. The company failed to recognize that “v” is pronounced as “f” in German. “Vicks” was pronounced as “Ficks”, which is German slang for procreation! The mistake became immediately clear to the company and it renamed the product “Wick” before too much damage had been done.
AMC, the one-time US car manufacturer, made a devastating error when they introduced their Matador model in Spanish-speaking Puerto Rico. AMC assumed that the Matador name would conjure images of bravery as it had in the US. Instead, having not checked with a professional translation service, they unknowingly introduced a car named “Killer”. Puerto Rico was well known for dangerous roads so the Matador name was the perfect recipe for a sales disaster.
Irish Mist Liqueur entered the German market with sales expectations similar to those in North America. But Irish Mist’s owners neglected to check the translation of their product. In German the word “Mist” translates as manure so the beverage was marketed as “Irish Manure” and it bombed. That was one pile of, er, mistakes!
Short cuts in translations almost always lead to disastrous results. Not using a professional language services firm is the equivalent of taking a shot in the dark, maybe you’ll get lucky and your “translation” will be close to inoffensive. When you consult with Auerbach International, you’re working with a firm of professional linguists, a company with more than 30 years of premium service to clients large and small.
Watch for floating peaches, check the ingredients label, be careful when pronouncing your favorite brand of cough drops and give us a call or send us a note. We can help you navigate dangerous language roads and avoid the “mist”!
Have a frighteningly fun October!
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