So my company is looking at going more International, and as a result we’re looking at our trademark names to avoid blunders. They gave us a list of blunders that other companies have made in taking their trademarks internationally. Since it’s funny, I thought I’d share:
Message to marketers: One man’s pizza may be another man’s pants. That is a lesson at least one U.S. advertiser would like to have known before trying to market his folded-over pizza, called a calzone, to Spanish speakers: to them, calzone means underwear.
Coca-Cola Co. ran into trouble in China when it tried to come up with characters that sounded like Coke. Depending on the dialect, the literal translations ranged from “bite the wax tadpole” to “female horse stuffed with wax.”
General Motors’ Chevy Nova didn’t sell well in Latin America, and it may not have helped that “no va” means “it doesn’t go” in Spanish.
An American airline operating in Brazil advertised the plush “rendezvous lounges” on its jets only to discover that rendezvous in Portuguese means a room hired for lovemaking.
Colgate’s “Cue” toothpaste had problems in France, as cue is a crude term for “butt” in French.
In Germany, Pepsi’s advertisement, “Come alive with Pepsi,” was presented as “Come alive out of the grave with Pepsi.”
Sunbeam attempted to enter the German market with a mist-producing curling iron named the Mist-Stick. Unfortunately, mist translates as “dung” or “manure” in German.
Pet milk encountered difficulties in French-speaking countries where pet means, among other things, “to break wind.”
Esso found that its name pronounced phonetically meant “stalled car” in Japanese.
Kellogg’s Bran Buds translates to “burned farmer” in Swedish.
China attempted to export “Pansy” brand men’s underwear to America.