“Laughter is an instant vacation,” said Milton Berle, one of the great television pioneers.
Today I am writing a continuation to Friday’s post: “Say What?” American advertising geniuses are paid millions to come up with great advertising slogans. Sometimes they are unrecognizable when they wash up on foreign shores:
A famous drug company marketed a new remedy in the United Arab Emirates. To avoid any mistakes, they used pictures. The first picture was of someone ill, the next picture showed the person taking the medication, the last picture showed them looking well. What they forgot is that in the Arab world people read from right to left!
Coors the American brewer went flat in Spain when their hip phrase “Turn It Loose” came out as “Get Diarrhea.”
When Pepsi started a marketing campaign 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.”
Chicken-man Frank Purdue’s slogan, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” got badly mangled in a Spanish translation. A photo of Purdue with one of his birds appeared on billboards all over Mexico with a caption that translated as “It takes a hard man to make a chicken affectionate.”
Jolly Green Giant translated into Arabic means “Intimidating Green Ogre.”
In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into Schweppes Toilet Water! Bet that drove sales – the other way!
On packaging for a Rowenta iron – DO NOT IRON CLOTHES ON BODY. Sadly, I don’t think this was a translation issue. Good to know though.
Translation is tricky. Language should never be a barrier that stops you from trying to interact with those whose culture you don’t understand. Kindness is the international language. So is the smile. And if you make a foolish mistake, like we did constantly, you can offer them the gift of an ‘instant vacation’ — laughter!
Laugh. Hard and often!