Had lots of fun researching the first list on marketing boo-boo’s, and some emails asking about other examples. so there are 10 more here, and every now and then more will appear as on ongoing list. They seem just too nutty to be real, but then again neither are they beyond imagination (we are still surprised by what comes out of the advertising department!).
Some say myth, some say fact, but we all say entertainment at the expense of others mistakes! True or false – you decide, or better yet, add in your own comments or examples. meanwhile enjoy and marketing gurus, write this down: Measure twice, cut once! Or in this case, translate twice – verify – then release your ads.
1. Almost as good as the confusion among English speakers over the term Fanny Pack, is the humor raised by the German equivalent for knapsack. Companies often use or “borrow” words from other languages to give their product names a certain cachet. Sometimes their choices are a bit odd. German makers of knapsacks refer to them as “Body Bags”.
2. During its 1994 launch campaign, the telecom company Orange had to change its ads in Northern Ireland. “The future’s bright … the future’s Orange.” That campaign is an advertising legend. However, in the North the term Orange suggests the Orange Order. The implied message that the future is bright, the future is Protestant, loyalist… didn’t sit well with the Catholic Irish population.
3. Mike Wallace, of the CBS news program 60 Minutes, is known for his tough interviewing style. During an interview in 2000 he drew a sharp rebuke from Boris Yeltsin – thanks to a translator’s error. The confusion arose when Wallace asked Yeltsin if he had a “thin skin” when it came to public criticism, but the translation had Wallace describing Yeltsin as a “thick-skinned hippopotamus.” Yeltsin was not amused.
4. In 1988, the General Electric Company (GEC) and Plessey combined to create a new telecommunications giant. A brand name was desired that evoked technology and innovation. The winning proposal was GPT for GEC-Plessey Telecommunications. A not very innovative name and not suggestive of technology and a total disaster for European branding. GPT is pronounced in French as “J’ai pété” or “I’ve farted”.
5. Life Fitness is a maker of exercise equipment, bikes, ski machines etc with an interesting logo. At first glance the stylized L and F appear to say “4F”. Now, for those of you that don’t know, the American military, when there was a draft, had a rating for recruits. If you were “1A”, you were healthy and fit for duty. “4F” is the code for those that are physically unfit and unacceptable to the army. So “4F” was a rather inappropriate logo for a health fitness machine.
6. Binney & Smith Crayola Crayons Crayola has changed color names over time due to the civil rights movement and other social pressures. In 1962, Binney & Smith replaced flesh with peach, in recognition of the wide variety of skin tones. More recently, in 1999, they changed indian red to chestnut. The color was not named after Native Americans, it was actually named for a special pigment that came from India. But school children often assumed the incorrect origin of the name.
7. Gerber, the name of the famous baby food maker, is also the French word for vomiting, which really makes it a bit limiting when you go global… Gerber is therefore not in France, and although Gerber has a French Canadian web page, it says “Les aliments pour bébés Gerber ne sont disponibles pour l’instant qu’aux États-Unis” (French for: You won’t find our baby food here, try the U.S.).
8. Port Wallhamn is a Swedish port. The companies that surround it used to give their employees ties with the logo “W” and an anchor. The combination forms a very nice rebus for Wanker, much to the chagrin of the British workers who had to wear it.
9. In 2004 the newspaper The Australian had to apologize for changing a Senator’s use of “Baathist” to “Bastard”. A story headlined ‘Syria seeks our help to woo US’ in Saturday’s Weekend Australian misquoted National Party senator Sandy Macdonald. The quote stated: “Syria is a country that has been a bastard state for nearly 40 years” but should have read “Syria is a country that has been a Baathist state for nearly 40 years.”
10. Locum is a Swedish company. In 1991, they sent Christmas cards to all of their customers. They thought they would give their logo a little holiday spirit, by substituting a little heart for the letter “o”. For some reason, they also used all lowercase letters. The lowercase “L” can therefore be easily misunderstood to be an “i”, and the locum logo looked like one of those “I love …” bumper stickers, with an unfortunate pornographic sentiment to it.
Myth: Ford’s Pinto didn’t do well in Brazil. Pinto is Brazilian slang for “male genitals”. Ford renamed the car the Corcel, which means horse or steed.
Fact: Ford Pinto (under any name) wasn’t ever sold in Brazil, except maybe as a low-volume import. The Ford Corcel was a totally unrelated product, the result of a joint project by the Brazilian subsidiary of Willys Overland and French automaker Renault (Willys used to make Renault cars, like the Dauphine and Gordini, under license in Brazil.) Maybe the marketing department should have renamed the car “Dear God, I hope my gas tank doesn’t explode!”