Marketing professionals sometimes get it wrong. And sometimes get it VERY wrong. Here are some examples of what can happen when local talent isn’t used to verify the international meaning of words and images.
Gerber- Your Choice for Ground Baby
The Healthy looking Caucasian Baby on the Gerber Baby Formula packages didn’t do well in Africa. It had however nothing to do with being politically correct.
In Africa – since a large part of the population can’t read – it is standard practice to put a picture of the main Ingredient on the package.
Meet the Wankers
Mitsubishi – had a very successful vehicle in their Pajero, Which sold great all over the world. However, it is sold under the name Montero in South America, after having a big flop in their initial launch.
Guess no one told them that Pajero is slang for Wanker in for instance Argentina.
Wallhamn – a Swedish port and shipping company designed a logo that used their Capital W and an achor.. W-anchor. English speaking workers quickly made the connection. They are now using another logo.
That car Won’t go
Chevrolet had to rename their Nova in South America. Where it was sold as Chevrolet Chevy and later Malibu.
Guess the local market didn’t want to buy the “No va” – Which translates into the “no way” or “won’t go” car.
Are you Using a New Shampoo?
Clairol, had their curling iron named the “Mist Stick” backfire in Germany. Where “Mist” is the slang for manure. For some reason, the image of fertilizing your hair wasn’t appealing to most German women.
The Coca-Cola name in China was read as “Ke-kou-ke-la”, meaning “Bite the wax tadpole” They have since changed the characters used to the more suitable “ko-kou-ko-le”, or “happiness in the mouth.”
When you are expanding overseas, it is tempting to just apply what has worked in the past. Be aware that what you think something means could backfire when you apply local culture to it.
It’s always best to verify with the local talent before committing to sell those 900 tons of powdered babies you just shipped.