Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation


Once in a while, an international company will come out with a new product, brand name or slogan that gets somewhat lost in translation.

This is an advertisement by a Dutch company that sells all kinds of products, including this oral irrigator called WaterPik. While this may not seem too odd to English speaking consumers, for Dutch consumers the brand translates into ”Water Schlong”.

WaterPik Advert-Funky Marketing

The Spanish word “puta” means prostitute, which didn’t stop Mazda launching the Laputa minivan in 1991. The ads claimed that “Laputa is designed to deliver maximum utility in a minimum space while providing a smooth, comfortable ride” and “a lightweight, impact-absorbing body.”

Laputa Advert-Funky Marketing

The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as “Kekoukela,” which means “Bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax” depending on the dialect. Coke then settled on “kokou kole,” which translates as “happiness in the mouth.”

Kekoukela Advert-Funky Marketing

Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick,” a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that “mist” is slang for manure.

Miss Stick Advert - Funky Marketing

In Chinese, Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi generation” slogan translated into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”.

Come Alive Pepsi Advert-Funky Marketing

Tesco’s launch of its Fresh & Easy chain of supermarkets in the US was a miserable failure, possibly because its name made it sound like it was a feminine hygiene product.

Fresh & Easy Tesco America

Pee Cola is an extremely popular soda, bottled in Ghana. The name means “very good Cola”, but that’s not most consumers’ first impression.

Pee Cola Advert-Funky Marketing

Alison Job
Alison Job holds a BA English, Communications and has extensive experience in writing that spans news broadcasting, public relations and corporate and consumer publishing. Find her at Google+.