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Cracking an international market is a goal of most growing corporations. It
shouldn't be that hard, yet even the big multi-nationals run into trouble
because of language and cultural differences. For example...

The name Coca-Cola in China was first rendered as Ke-kou-ke-la. Unfortunately,
the Coke company did not discover until after thousands of signs had been
printed that the phrase means bite the wax tadpole or female horse stuffed
with wax depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 Chinese
characters and found a close phonetic equivalent, ko-kou-ko-le, which can be
loosely translated as happiness in the mouth.

In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan Come alive with the Pepsi
Generation came out as Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.

Also in Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan finger-lickin' good came
out as eat your fingers off.

The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, Salem - Feeling Free, got
translated in the Japanese market into Whensmoking Salem, you feel so refreshed
that your mind seems to be free and empty.

When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South America, it was
apparently unaware that no va means it won't go. After the company figured
out why it wasn't selling any cars, it renamed the car in its Spanish markets to
the Caribe.

Ford had a similar problem in Brazil when the Pinto flopped. The company found
out that Pinto was Brazilian slang fortiny male genitals. Ford pried all the
nameplates off and substituted Corcel, which means horse.

When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to
say It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you. However, the company's
mistakenly thought the spanish word embarazar meant embarrass. Instead the ads
said that It wont leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.

An American t-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the spanish market which
promoted the Pope's visit. Instead of the desired I Saw the Pope in Spanish,
the shirts proclaimed I Saw the Potato.

Chicken-man Frank Perdue's slogan, It takes a tough man to make a tender
chicken, got terribly mangled in another Spanish translation. A photo of Perdue
with one of his birds appeared on billboards all over Mexico with a caption that
explained It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused.

Hunt-Wesson introduced its Big John products in French Canada as Gros Jos
before finding out that the phrase, in slang, means big breasts. In this case,
however, the name problem did not have a noticeable effect on sales.

Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious
porno mag.

In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into
Schweppes Toilet Water.

Japan's second-largest tourist agency was mystified when it entered
English-speaking markets and began receiving requests for unusual sex tours.
Upon finding out why, the owners of Kinki Nippon Tourist Company changed its

and finally...

In an effort to boost orange juice sales in predominantly continental
breakfast eating England, a campaign was devised to extoll the drink's
eye-opening, pick-me-up qualities. Hence, the slogan, Orange juice. It gets
your pecker up.
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