Top 5 Global Marketing Failures (and how language services could have saved them)

These global marketing mistakes make clear why translation services
should be a requirement in your global marketing strategy.

You’ve spent years building a solid branding strategy that has likely brought your business growth and profitability.
You’ve perfected your branding guidelines, marketing messaging and campaign efforts in your home market.
You’re ready to expand, and start doing business in international markets by building a well crafted global marketing strategy.

But do you know how the language in your marketing actually translates within your international market? Global marketing mistakes happen as a result of many factors, but failing to utilize professional and certified translation and localization services can mean costly, embarrassing translation mistakes in a brand new market.

Take a look at how business giants have found themselves in hot water after discovering that their money making language got seriously lost in translation. These funny translation mistakes made global marketing blunders for some big, big companies.

1) Pepsi

During their expansion into the Chinese market, Pepsi crafted “Pepsi Brings You Back To Life”.
While this slogan packs a punch in the US market, the Chinese market was less than thrilled.
Pepsi’s slogan was perceived as “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From The Grave”, which not
only lacks a sophisticated marketing flare, but also hits a sore spot with Chinese consumers, who
culturally hold a great deal of respect for their ancestors. It’s safe to say Pepsi quickly retracted
their marketing efforts.

2) Coors

Their clever slogan “Turn It Loose” used US based slang to drive a solid marketing campaign. The
problem arose, however, when Coors tried to take this same slogan to the Spanish market. Coors
slang statement translated into various forms of the expression “Suffer from Diarrhea”. Not
exactly what you want to hear when choosing your next beer. 


Even the world’s most popular bank can suffer from a serious translation failure. Their five year
old slogan “Assume Nothing” translated into “Do Nothing” when they took it overseas. This simple
mistake cost the bank millions, and resulted in a complete re-branding to “The World’s Most
Private Bank.”

4) American Motors

When American Motors launched the “Matador”- it’s newest midsize automobile- it came as a big
surprise when the product name resulted in a costly translation mistake. Without even getting to
the marketing messaging, “Matador” had already resounded as “Killer” in Spanish. Paired with the
infamous hazardous roads in Puerto Rico, the “Matador” did everything but instill confidence
within Puerto Rican consumers.

5) Ford

Ever wondered how “Every Car Has a High Quality Body” translates into the Belgium market?
Ford can tell you. The slogan- meant to depict Ford’s consistent manufacturing quality- actually
translated into “Every Car Has a High Quality Corpse”. This is certainly not what Ford meant to
say- but the reality of true translation and localization.

How could language services have prevented these global marketing nightmares?

"Straight forward translation may seem to be the easiest route to take, but you’ll get more bang for your buck by investing in a language service provider who relies on native speakers to interpret or transcreate your catchy slogan into the language of your market. Doing so will ensure that your slogans are translated accurately and that the spirit of the message is captured and expressed in a culturally significant way. Not only will you reach your target audience, it also demonstrates that you care about their values which in turn creates an emotional connection. " - Lilly Kahns, Senior Project Manager 



Small mistakes kill your global marketing strategy.

There’s more to global marketing than word for word translation. Avoiding the most
common translation mistakes we see in building a great global marketing strategy starts
with YOU. That's why we created a short guide on the #3 things to avoid when translating across borders.

Send me the guide!

Get a Quote