When taglines don't travel

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Some beloved brand slogans get lost in translation when traveling abroad

These might be some of the most memorable brand taglines in English, but when they cross oceans, they mean something entirely different. We searched the depths of the Internet to find the best, or worst.


KFC and its 50-year-old slogan "Finger Lickin' Good" (which was dropped in 2011) is known all over the world. But when this fast-food giant opened its doors in China in late 1980s, the translation of its tasty slogan didn't seem quite so appetizing, unless you had cannibalistic tendencies.



The much-loved American Coors beer had a little accident — pun intended — on the road to reaching its potential Spanish drinkers. It discovered that colloquial phrases do not always translate.



We all know this (perhaps apocryphal) Henry Ford story: When referring to the Model T, Ford supposedly said, "You can have any color, as long as it is black." But what is not quite so well known is the Belgian ad campaign in which a translation mishap had made Ford look like a mortuary worker.



Pepsi launched an ad campaign back in the '60s intended to express the brand's youth. The campaign "Come Alive, You're with Pepsi" did extremely well around the globe, except in China, where sales dropped significantly following the launch of the campaign. After a little investigation, the company realized that the translation into Mandarin and Cantonese had a bit more life in its meaning than desired.



Ford made another disastrous marketing mishap when it named the Ford Pinto. At first blush, naming a car after a small bean seems like  a safe bet, but that's not the case in Brazil, where the word "pinto" refers to a common source of male embarrassment. Ford quickly re-branded the car in Brazil as the Corcel (meaning "horse"), which is a little more masculine.



Last on our list,an explanation about the idiosyncratic name for the Big Mac in France (a quirk highlighted in the movie "Pulp Fiction"). In France, McDonald's calls its flagship burger a "Royale With Cheese." The real reason? The French translation comes out as "Gros Mec."


This article first appeared on marketingmagazine.co.uk.


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