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When a company launches a new product, it must recognise that the product might be received differently depending on the country. Consequently, the target market must be analysed before internationally commercialising the product. It seems that some marketing departments of several large companies forgot this step! Here’s a small selection of some of the worst commercial translations.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi fall victim to bad translations of their advertising campaigns

Marketing translation is a delicate process. When appealing to the Chinese market, the brand decided to translate Coca-Cola as “Kekoukela” which literally means “A mare stuffed with wax”. Clearly this might have posed some problems for their brand image. In the end it became “Kekoukele” which translates as “tasty fun”.

Pepsi also became aware of the importance of localized translation. When wanting to translate their international campaign “Come alive with the Pepsi generation” into Mandarin, the brand unfortunately suggested a translation meaning “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back to life”, a message that was not particularly reassuring for their customers!

Pregnant with Parker pens?

When expanding into the Mexican market, the Parker brand wanted to assure its target audience that their pens “won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”. However, when they translated “embarrass” into Spanish, the company used the word “embarazar” which actually means to make or become pregnant.
The Parker pens therefore promised that they: “won’t leak in your pocket and impregnate you!” … phew, that’s reassuring!

Film titles: what are some of the worst translations?

You may already know that in Quebec everything must be translated into French. This even applies to film titles, with some results that are nothing less than surprising. Take a look at these translations for French version films or cartoons – at least they are creative…
Some of the worst ones are “Cruel Intentions” which became “Sex Intentions”, “Chicken Run” which is known in Canada as “Chicken on the Run”, or “Cars” which was translated to a colloquialism for a car, which, to borrow from the Americans, is similar to calling the show ‘The Whips’.

In terms of translation, it is important to remember that in both France and the US, the “all rights reserved” disclaimer is only compulsory when the author wishes to tell the audience about a legal copyright application or registration for this work. In other words, the presence of this disclaimer means that their creation is not public domain.

It is therefore easy to understand just how important it is to call upon the services of a professional, qualified and experienced native translator, instead of risking a potential loss of credibility. Besides, some poorly translated documents will have an impact on the company’s turnover. Quality translations enable businesses to effectively apply their marketing strategy.