When you’re aiming a product or campaign at an international market, it’s important to make sure the text is localised to your consumers. There have been many instances in which brands have caused offence or lost consumers due to bad translations.
Here are some of the worst advertising translation fails:
The most recent example of poor advertising was by e-commerce giant Amazon - who launched in Sweden and hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The website, which offers customers more than 150 million products across 30 categories, failed to localise their translations from English to Swedish, allowing offensive words in product descriptions, as well as mistaking the Argentinian flag for the Swedish one.
The word valdtakt, which means rape in Swedish, was used on several products instead of raps - the correct Swedish word for a plant. Some product descriptions used a Swedish word for male genitals, instead of the word for rooster, and a frying pan was listed as a product for women.
When Pepsi launched their new slogan “Pepsi brings you back to life” in China, it was met with confusion from the Chinese people, as the translation read ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave’. It couldn’t have happened in a worse market, given the importance of ancestry in Chinese culture.