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“I first contacted Paul because we needed an interpreter to help resolve an issue at Sevillana, the electricity company. He was very efficient and effective and the problem was quickly solved. I have since used Paul in other official settings, including my bank, Unicaja, the Provincial Payments Office and the Administrator of our Community of Owners. Excellent value for money.”
Bill Douthwaite, Ronda, September 2009

Marketing cock-ups! PDF
Tuesday, 24 August 2010 00:00
 

Of all the brand name howlers and advertising blunders of the last 50 or 60 years, the automotive industry has come up with more than its fair share.

From the Rolls Royce Silver Mist to the Opel Nova, the Toyota MR2 to the Mitsubishi Pajero, they’ve all been the source of great mirth in Germany, South America, France and Spain respectively. 

Who, in those countries, would buy a dung-filled Roller or a shitty Toyota, an Opel that won’t go or a Mitsubishi wanker?

At least in the above cases in France, Germany, and South America, they changed the model number and names respectively.  Yet it still amazes me to see so many Spanish-owned Pajeros around these parts?  Why don't they realise?

Moving away from cars, the Germans had a problem with Vick vapour rub, because of the pronunciation (“Fick” means fuck!), so the spelling was changed for German-speaking markets to Wick, pronounced “Vick”.

 

Then we have Colon washing powder and Bimbo bread in Spain, Pschitt lemonade in France, not to mention ShitBegone toilet paper, Wack Off insect repellent and Megapussi snacks in China.  Drinks named Sars, Cok, Erektus, and Fart hold little attraction for me, and as for Homo sausage and Shitto hot pepper sauce, well, I’d need to get some MyFannie kitchen roll to mop up the sick!

Even where foreign language translations and cultural misunderstandings are not the issue, things can still go wrong.  Take the unfortunate advertising slogan for vacuum cleaners in the USA: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”, or the relaunch a few years back of Reed Business News with the branding: "If it's news to you, it's news to us!"

 

I’m off now to “bite the wax tadpole”, the Chinese for (drink a) coca cola.  No, seriously, back in 1928 that was the result of the company’s first attempt to find a suitable transliteration into Chinese characters for their product.  Fortunately, and after much research, the name was changed to something which can be loosely translated as "happiness in the mouth", which is much more palatable.

 

© Paul Whitelock

www.a1-solutions-spain.com 

 

 

 

 

Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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