auerbach intl blog

Global marketers are an intelligent bunch. But sometimes their over-confidence and past successes blind them to a monumental mistake:

After investing millions of dollars launching a new product in a new country, they discover that the company name, product name, slogan, tagline or logo is offensive to the target audience.

Had they invested in the cheapest possible insurance, these mistakes could have been avoided.

And who issues that insurance? Your friendly, professional language agency. For a very small fee, we can verify that your choices of name, logo or design will work in up to ten major languages and country markets … or at least cause no monumental gaffes that can damage your brand and reputation.

Here are some classic blunders:

Clairol introduced its Mist Stick in Germany, unaware that “Mist” in German is slang for manure. Not terribly appealing on women’s hair.

Colgate launched its Cue toothpaste in France, unaware that Cue means “ass” or “butt.”

Language tip Number 9: You can speak to anyone 24/7 using our Over the Phone Interpreting solution. For more Language Tips, request our Free Guide.

Gerber used its US packaging to launch baby foods in East Africa, where due to illiteracy, people assume that the label picture shows the contents. Many Africans thought that Gerber’s jars contained purée of White Baby.

Mercedes Benz entered China with the company name “Ben si” which means “rush to die.” Slightly inappropriate for a car.

Vicks introduced its products into Germany using its company name, unaware that in German, V is pronounced “F” and therefore sounds like the term for sexual intercourse.

And my all-time favorite: A Swedish vacuum cleaner maker launched a TV commercial in the UK where its slogan made perfect sense. The commercial was then broadcast in some Commonwealth countries which also speak UK English. But when the company used the same commercial in the US, its slogan, “Nothing sucks like Electrolux” had a slightly different connotation.


Before you enter non-English markets or into other English-speaking countries, please ask us for a free, inexpensive quote to verify that your company name, product name or slogans will work there.

And to get more funny, free Global Branding Blunders to brighten your day, please click here.

In partnership,

Philip Auerbach

Founder, President & CEO

Auerbach International

Headquarters – 415-592-0042 x107

“3 Decades. 2 Billion Words. A+ Accuracy. Superior Translation Services.”

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