Kiss of Death Marketing Mistakes by Corporations
The Kiss of Death
Business runs on marketing. From the choice of location, to what color paint is on the wall, the writing of a press release, offering coupons, who the target audience is, which networking groups to be involved with, packaging and even what happens if something fatal happens to a consumer who uses your product or service are all under a marketing umbrella. Most people, however, connect marketing to memorable ads, slogans and catchy jingles heard on television. Collected over time from the University of Phoenix, emultilingual.com, tallrite.com, and monster-island.org, these, now famous, marketing campaigns have become the kiss of death for some companies and great teaching moments for the rest. Laughing or awe-struck, these companies illustrate the difference between putting pieces together and thinking you’ve succeeded and connecting the right pieces for the right reasons, but always evolving.
Coors put its slogan, “Turn it loose,” into Spanish, where it was read as “Suffer from diarrhea.”
When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the U.S., with the smiling baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of what’s inside, since many people can’t read.
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.” Instead, the company thought the word embarazar meant “to embarrass,” when it actually meant “to impregnate,” so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”
General Motors marketed their Nova into the Spanish markets, not realizing “No Va” translated into Spanish means, “won’t go.” Likewise, GM also marketed their Pinto in Brazil. Pinto translated in Brazilian slang meant “tiny male genitals.” Ford renamed the automobile Corcel, meaning “horse.”
Kentucky Fried Chicken wanted to move their product to the highly populated China. The KFC slogan, “Finger lickin’ good” translated in Chinese means “eat your fingers off.”
The Dairy Association’s huge success with the campaign “Got Milk?” prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention the Spanish translation read “Are you lactating?”
Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave,” in Chinese.
Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an in an American campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”
Puffs tissues tried to introduce its product in Germany, only to learn that "Puff" in German is a colloquial term for a whorehouse.
Pet condensed milk introduced their product into French markets without realizing that "pet" in French means "to break wind."
Bacardi concocted a fruity drink with the name "Pavian" to suggest French chic...but "pavian" means "baboon" in German.
Nike’s television commercial for hiking shoes, shot in Kenya using Samburu tribesmen, where the camera closes in on one tribesman who speaks in native Maa. As the man speaks, the slogan “Just do it” appears on the screen. Lee Crank, an anthropologist at the University of Cincinnati said the Kenyan is really saying, “I don’t want these. Give me big shoes.” Says Nike’s Elizabeth Dolan, “We thought nobody in America would know what he said.”