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Hilarious Failed Advertising Slogans and Translation Accidents

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Pepsi- Brings the Dead Back to Life!

"Come Alive, You're in the Pepsi Generation!"

This was a slogan used by Pepsi in the early 1960s and it was successful in the United States as hipsters found it to be "groovy." However, this slogan hurt sales in China due to a translation error from English to Chinese. According to Snopes.com, the jingle which says:

"There's a whole new way of living,

Pepsi helps supply the drive.

Its got a lot to give,

To those who like to live.

'Cause Pepsi helps em come alive,

Its the Pepsi Generation

Comin' at ya,

goin' strong.

Advertising executives released this advertisement in Chinese without a careful examination into the translation details. There are many accounts into the translation of this slogan into Chinese which rejected Pepsi after the launch of the slogan including:

"Come out of the grave alive with Pepsi."

"Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead."

"Bring dead ancestors back from the dead with Pepsi Cola!"


Kentucky Fried Chicken

In Chinese, the direct translation of this slogan; "Finger Licking Good" is, "Eat Your Fingers Off."


Gerber Baby Food

As demonstrated in 2008 by a show called "Urban Legends", many third world countries do not require advertising slogans because most of the population cannot read. It is typical for many of the countries to create packaging with a photograph of the product on the outside of the bag. When missionaries from the United States and Britian donated "Gerber Baby Food" to tribes in Africa, the tribes people were appalled and terrified upon viewing the jars of baby food. People in third world countries are also terrified of American bags of dog and cat food.

Gerber is also the French word for vomitting.


Coca- Cola

The original Coca-Cola was spelled Ke-kou-ke-la when first introduced in China. First translations on cans of Coke were read, "Wax tadpole" and "Female Horse Stuffed With Wax." Initial sales of Coke in China were poor because of the translation error.



Purdue Chicken

Perdue’s slogan, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” in an erroneous Spanish translation says on a Mexican billboard: “It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused.”


Ford Pinto

Ford automotive suffered from horrible sales of its Pinto in South America. After many cars were sent and marketed, the company discovered after intense market research that Pinto was Brazilian slang for “tiny male genitals”. Ford substituted Corcel as the new title, which means horse, however, people were reluctant to be caught driving one by then.


General Electric

In 1988, the General Electric Company and Plessey combined to create a new telecommunications giant. A brand name was desired that evoked technology and innovation. The new company name was: GPT, for GEC-Plessey Telecommunications. It was a very unsucessful ad campain in France as GPT is pronounced in French as “J’ai pété” or “I've farted”.


Starbucks

One of the most recent products listed, Starbucks has many advertisements for "lattes" all over the world. In Germany, the word "latte" translates into erection. Starbucks has removed several signs from German stores advertising a "morning latte break."


Irish Mist Liqueur

This popular brand of alcohol is sold in the United States and parts of Europe. It is unpopular in Germany as mist translates into "manure".


Pizza Hut P'zone

Pizza Hut launched a new calzone years ago named the P'Zone. It is pronounced like "pezon", the Spanish word for "nipple". While these treats are yummy, many people would be embarrassed to order this in a restaurant.


While some of these slogans and translations are open to interpretation and branding as urban legends, they are fun and entertaining.


Comments

Kalpana Iyer from India on April 20, 2013:

Haha! Good stuff

Praveen P.V. Nair from Trivandrum on April 19, 2013:

Nice and excellent. Voted up and awesome

Melanie Casey from Indiana on April 15, 2013:

That is hilarious!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on March 18, 2013:

Thanks so much for reading pstraubie48!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 18, 2013:

What a great way to begin my day....J'ai pele how long did it take that to be corrected??

Thanks for sharing

Sending Angels your way this morning. :) ps

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on March 17, 2013:

That is very interesting Briefme. I hadn't heard of that one before. Thanks for sharing.

Melanie Mason from Oregon on March 17, 2013:

I'm still laughing. You could probably add in the advertising campaigns in the US that failed because of misspelled words. Thank you, very entertaining.

theweaksend on March 16, 2013:

Wow the P'Zone one killed me, that is hilarious! haha

Briefme2 on March 16, 2013:

Great hub! Laughed my chalupas off! Reminds me of a story many years ago. It wasJerry DellaFamina, one of the MadMen originals, whose advertising agency in the early 1960s, was asked to come up with a catchy sales pitch for a new product. The campaingn was for the "new" portable transistor radio, and his clients were the Japanese. Back then, World War II was still fresh in America's mind, so it was a touchy subject. Never one to beat around the bush, however, Della Famina proposed, "How about 'From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbor!'" It became the title of his memior which in turn became the bible of the Sterling-Cooper scriptwriters.!

DommaLeigh on March 16, 2013:

Boy do I understand translation problems. I am American and took a few trips over to England. Most people say, "So what, you both speak English. " WRONG! If they ask if you would like to be knocked up in the morning, don't be alarmed, they are not sending a male hunk to your room in the morning. What they where asking was if I needed a wake up call. If your car breaks down never ask an English man for a jump. It won't be your battery he would be looking at. I totally understand and it is very humorous.

Jmillis2006 from North Carolina on March 16, 2013:

Very funny, I had no clue there are so many translation errors in advertising , you would think companies would do better research.

John from Irvine, California on March 15, 2013:

Good stuff. Nothing wrong with a delicious nipple.

Just call me, Rick from Asia, and all over on March 15, 2013:

Great hub! I read in a ESL text that Chevy "Nova" in Spanish means "Doesn't run". Good job, very entertaining indeed.

billd01603 from Worcester on March 14, 2013:

Very entertaining Hub Tammy.I enjoyed it.

Sheri Dusseault from Chemainus. BC, Canada on March 14, 2013:

Thanks for the laugh. This was great!

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on March 14, 2013:

A very enjoyable read. Voted up and funny.

Theophanes Avery from New England on March 14, 2013:

I will never look at baby food the same way again. Hilarious. Thanks for the laugh.

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on March 14, 2013:

Unintended consequences. Great idea for a hub! One of my favorite things to do at the World of Coke here in Atlanta is to tour all the old advertisements. It's a fun walk down memory lane.

Elias Zanetti from Athens, Greece on March 14, 2013:

"Eat Your Fingers Off," big lol!

Pretty cool hub here :)

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on March 14, 2013:

This is just too funny! Reading this was a great way to start my day! I would never have thought how some slogans would translate in other countries. This is a great hub, I can't wait for my hubby to get up so I can show it to him! Voting up, interesting and funny! :)

Pete from Ontario, Canada on March 14, 2013:

Wow, I posed the question last week on Hubpages, asking what was people's first beverage in the morning. Now I'm a little surprised that more people didn't say "latte"!!

Gustave Kilthau from USA on March 14, 2013:

Howdy Tammy (tammyswallow) -

This is a very enjoyable "look back" and translations like these show that many otherwise smart marketers are too dumb to "do things right."

It goes in both directions, be assured. I got a very polite letter from a Mexican company one time that was written in English that someone in that Mexican company had translated - probably using some computer program to do the translating. The addressing line was supposed to read, "(Greatly, Very, or Highly) esteemed sir" but it was written as "Much estimated Mister."

If you try some of those "translation" programs on some stuff, you'd be surprised at what comes out at the other end.

Gus :-)))

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on March 14, 2013:

What funny translations! I especially like the Ford Pinto one. Ha!

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on March 14, 2013:

Hi tammy,

How'd I miss this great hub? This was really fun and Interesting! Just shows you how damaging words can be when translated! Some of these are hysterical! Loved the latte in Germany and then Thelma's comment above walking right into it unknowingly! great hub, voted up, funny, interesting, shared , pinned and tweets :-)

deergha from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!! on March 14, 2013:

LOL.....I am really laughing and I am in office. People around me looking at me as for them I am laughing without a reason. Can't help though.....ha ha ha...awesome hub. Votes up funny and shared.

torrilynn on March 14, 2013:

hey tammy thanks for this article.

it was quite funny and very interesting.

thanks for the read

Voted up

Thelma Alberts from Germany on March 13, 2013:

Hahaha...This is really funny Tammy. It reminds me when I was new in the cafeteria in Germany where I was working. My workmates asked me what would I like to drink at break time. I said, " I would like to have a hot latte this morning for a change" and my workmates were laughing so loud. I did not understand at that time why. Then they explained it to me. Funny, is it not? Thanks for sharing. Voted up and shared;-)

Carla J Swick from NW PA on November 27, 2012:

Funny stuff! My brother is a translator in Japan - he shares some funny stuff with us that is ...lost in translation.

Fierce Manson from Atlanta on November 27, 2012:

Tammy this is hilarious stuff here. I keep saying you can search the whole internet, and never find a place like hubpages. I was cracking up, how did you find these slogans. I was on my bed with my laptap, and I just rolled over and starting laughing. Voted up and funny!

drsarajohnson from Spokane Valley, Washington on November 27, 2012:

Interesting hub, love watching the international ads!

Kris Heeter from Indiana on November 27, 2012:

Awesome hub - love the slang translation for the Ford Pinto. This had to be a fun hub to research!

Carolyn Dahl from Ottawa, Ontario on November 26, 2012:

This is a great hub! I had a good laugh over some of those translations. I had to tell my husband about the lattes in Germany, we shared a laugh over that one!

ignugent17 on November 26, 2012:

Very funny ! :-))) I appreciate the effort of translating.

Chloe West from Charleston on November 25, 2012:

These are so funny! How unfortunate for some of those companies! I could imagine being scared of baby, dog, and cat food if that's what I thought was in the package, too!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on November 25, 2012:

Thanks for sharing that billdo1603. I may have to include that one. :)

billd01603 from Worcester on November 25, 2012:

Funny Hub. Thanks for the laugh!

I've also heard that the Chevy Nova had to be renamed in South America. Nova translates into "no go"

Rain Defence from UK on November 25, 2012:

You know what I think 'Eat Your Fingers Off' is actually quite a good slogan for KFC. It shows that you're going to be ramming it in that fast that you may just eat your fingers. Makes it sound quite tasty!

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on November 25, 2012:

Hahaha! I just can't understand why the Purdue Chicken didn't take-off! And those poor people thinking they were buying jars of babies and pets!

This was such a fun hub. Loved all the information and the great laughs!

Tami R Glasco from Upper Marlboro. MD on November 23, 2012:

Those are great....I can only imagine how the natives looked when they saw those jars of baby food!!!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on October 02, 2012:

Thanks so much for stopping by Rolly. It is always great to see you. :)

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on October 01, 2012:

Hi Tammy... thanks for the laugh here tonight... I can see where it may happen if you fail to do your homework in the advertising department... lol... up and away all across the board.

Hugs from Canada

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on September 05, 2012:

Thanks for sharing. This kind of humor really makes me chuckle. Have a Pepsi. :)

LetitiaFT from Paris via California on September 05, 2012:

Hilarious, just voted up and shared with friends and family.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on August 24, 2012:

I am glad you chuckled Tycoon Sam. Have a Pepsi on me.

TycoonSam from Washington, MI on August 24, 2012:

Very Funny! Thanks for making me smile.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on August 06, 2012:

That is funny Realhousewife. I am sure that there are many people who would eat a McNasty.. LOL. Thanks for your visit!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on August 05, 2012:

Tammy I was ROTFL! Oh my gosh that is hilarious! This was a super awesome, clever funny hub. I totally loved it!

I heard there was a little glitch once when they started selling the McTasty at McDonalds - some advertisement flashed "McNasty" somewhere! lol

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on July 18, 2012:

Thanks JayeWisdom. I found these to be really funny too.. especially the one about Pepsi.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on July 17, 2012:

Hilarious, tammyswallow! I love funny hubs that make me laugh out loud. Knowing that these aren't just jokes, but real mishaps, makes them all the funnier.

Jaye

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on July 17, 2012:

Thank you so much for reading and commenting Molometer. It is always wonderful to see you and your sense of humor. :)

Micheal from United Kingdom on July 17, 2012:

Just what I needed as I was off to bed, lmao this is hysterically funny and even more so because it's true. Failed advertising attempts big time lol.

Epic is the word I'm looking for. I was just going to have a 'latte', but now I'll be 'up' all night. : )

Every buttons poked and prodded, sharing this truly funny hub, well done Tammy.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on April 19, 2012:

Thanks mollymeadows! :)

Mary Strain from The Shire on April 19, 2012:

Rofl, Tammy! I love it!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on April 19, 2012:

Thanks so much for reading Lyn.Stewart. I chuckle every time I see a dog food bag. :)

Lyn.Stewart from Auckland, New Zealand on April 18, 2012:

lmao well I never knew this but thank you for making me laugh till my sides hurt.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on April 17, 2012:

Thanks for reading Healthy Pursuits. I want my kids to drink lots of Pepsi after I die so I can come back from the dead. LOL. Thanks for your comment and the giggle. :)

Karla Iverson from Oregon on April 17, 2012:

Thanks, Tammy, for the morning laugh! I remember the Nova blunder, but didn't know about most of the others. I love the Starbucks problem. Gotta watch translating when every language has its own slang! (I'll remember to speak French the next time I pass gas. It has so much more panache when you say it in French.)

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on April 17, 2012:

Some of these are just unimaginable. Thanks so much for stopping by justateacher!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on April 17, 2012:

Thanks rahul0324! It amazes me too how bad some of these translate and how no one in the upper ranks caught them. I appreciate your visit.

LaDena Campbell from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz... on April 17, 2012:

This is funny! Too bad these companies didn't translate things correctly...think how much money they must have lost!

Jessee R from Gurgaon, India on April 17, 2012:

LOL! hehe! Crazy accidents eh! Interesting and funny hubs!

Noteworthy to see the Leading companies and franchises around the globe committing these minor blunders and facing non-profitable results! LOL again

up! :) rahul

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on February 01, 2012:

Thanks Alocsin! Makes you wonder how these people that pay so much to create these slogans miss these! I appreciate your visit!~

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 01, 2012:

Points out some of the perils of translation. This becomes pretty obvious once you travel around the world and see all the "English" signs. Voting this Up and Funny.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on January 30, 2012:

Thank you Thoughtsandwiches,

I think I remember that slogan from when I was little. I remember an old man in a hard hat saying that. It is a BAD slogan to begin with. I get the biggest kick out of these things. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

ThoughtSandwiches from Reno, Nevada on January 29, 2012:

Tammy...

This a funny ass list! Thanks for putting it together! This was my favorite:

Perdue’s slogan, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” in an erroneous Spanish translation says on a Mexican billboard: “It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused.”

?...Regardless of the messed up translation...I'm thinking the original slogan is a bit odd, as well.

Thanks,

Thomas

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on January 26, 2012:

Thanks for your comment Vox. It really cracked me up too. Thanks so much for your comment!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on January 06, 2012:

Thanks Alecia,

I wonder that too.. especially if they are going to pay so much money for these slogans and advertising.. Thank you for reading!

Jasmine on January 06, 2012:

Unbelievable! The Pepsi example is the most interesting (in my opinion) and the GPT example the funniest :) Great hub!

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on January 06, 2012:

I don't know why people don't pay to get a real translator. That's essential to good business, knowing how to be marketable. Great hub!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on January 05, 2012:

Thank you Lord.. Hope it made you chuckle. I appreciate the read my friend!

Joseph De Cross from New York on January 04, 2012:

Great compilation my friend, especially 'Pezon',Lol!

I learned more tonight! excellent research. Voted up!

LORD

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 28, 2011:

Thanks Alissa! Stuff like this just cracks me up.. I still don't know if I want to come out of my grave alive with a Pepsi. They need to specify what condition a person comes out.. hmmm.. Thank you so much for coming by!

Alissa Roberts from Normandy, TN on December 28, 2011:

Thanks for the laugh! Had to share a few of these with my husband who was wondering why in the world I was laughing at the computer. Great hub - voted up, funny, and awesome!

hardinflash from Montana on December 25, 2011:

Who doesn't need want a hot steaming cup of erection in the morning?

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 03, 2011:

Hi RV.. that would be a very interesting photo to say the least.. or.. Chicken Nuggets?? Hahaha.. You crack me up!

RVDaniels from Athens, GA on December 03, 2011:

That is hilarious! Wonder what they'd make of fish fingers?

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 01, 2011:

Thank you Prasetio! I am always glad to see you. I appreciate your kind comments.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on December 01, 2011:

This was funny hub. I had never heard about these before. You have done a good researches in collecting these information. Thanks for share with us. Rated up!

Prasetio

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on November 30, 2011:

Thanks Patti.. I feel honored that you like it!

Gail Louise Stevenson from Mason City on November 30, 2011:

Your welcome.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 30, 2011:

I'm laughing in the library...people are staring...

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on November 30, 2011:

Thanks Dahoglund. Advertising has had its share of bloopers. I remember when I was a young child, a commercial kept coming on tv. Two woman were sitting on a park bench talking about not feeling fresh. A woman whips out some Massingel (?). My little and brother did not understand what they were talking about and my embarrassed mother tried to explain it. My young brother could not understand why women would use a douche in the park. Oh, you gotta love it.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on November 30, 2011:

Thank you Man With No Pants. These are just some things I find very interesting over the years. I am honored to be your followee and I thank you for your kind words!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on November 30, 2011:

I wish I could remember some of the stories from an advertising course i took years ago.Every occupation has its folklore, I think.

TheManWithNoPants from Tucson, Az. on November 30, 2011:

Where'd you get this stuff? It's fantanstic and funnier than hell. I'm a semi retired marketing guy (which eplains my hub name)and I didn't know about one of these. Well, you just got yourself a new follower and I don't follow just anybody. Excellent job my sister!

jim

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on November 29, 2011:

Thank you Stigma. I appreciate the visit. These things tickle my funny bone. That is funny because I have an electrolux..:)

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on November 29, 2011:

Thanks Linda.. Thank goodness your friend did not have a pinto.. lol. Thank you for stopping by and for the nice comment!

Stigma31 from Kingston, ON on November 29, 2011:

Good article...always like a good advertising mishap. A good Scandinavian translated into english slogan was " Nothing sucks like an electrolux"...I remember the commercial when I was young....voting up!

Linda Compton from The Land of Enchantment on November 29, 2011:

Very funny, and fun, hub. Thanks for sharing it. I also heard that about Chevy Nova from a Hispanic friend of mine who drove one and got teased about it. Finally traded it in for an Impala. Happy hubbing! Cheers, Linda

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on November 29, 2011:

Thanks Gail. I appreciate you stopping by!

Gail Louise Stevenson from Mason City on November 29, 2011:

Great hub and very interesting. It's interesting that some words have different meanings in different countries.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on November 29, 2011:

No go, that is really funny. Thank you for stopping by!

Ramsa1 from A citizen of the World on November 29, 2011:

Great Hub. And funny. I wouldn't be caught dead in a Pinto in Brazil. It turned out to be a dangerous lemon anyway. I read somewhere that the Chevy Nova was a bust in Latin America because "no va" in Spanish loosely translates as "no go".

To be honest, I would order some of the other stuff in the foreign lands, but I'm not going to say which ones.

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