Famous businesses marketing fails, because of translation mistakes

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Category: Business & Marketing             Written by: Daqeeq          Date: 03 Feb 2021

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Famous businesses marketing fails, because of translation mistakes


DAQEEQ (Dubai) –– In line with the spread and expanding of brands and businesses globally, targeting variety of sectors and markets requires a highly important factor in effective communication and delivering the right messages to the foreign targeted group in its native language, that is, through translation.

Like any other field, the translation sector is liable to mistakes happening. Some prominent businesses and brands have fallen into traps resulting from incorrect translation or misunderstanding while marketing to foreign customers. This made them a target of criticism and mockery and incurred, as a result, huge losses and damage. If you want to make sure that translation blunders have negative consequences on business and marketing, carry on with reading this article to get acquainted with the most famous examples of businesses and brands that neglected accuracy in understanding their targeted group, and consequently, got lost in translation.

HSBC bank:

One of the biggest banks and the sixth-largest wealth manager worldwide, HSBC bank, was obliged to do another advertising campaign in many countries internationally in 2009 after translating the original bank’s tagline “Assume nothing” into a completely different advertising tagline. It became “do nothing”. Eventually, the bank had to quickly withdraw it and spent $10 million to change it and introduce a new marketing campaign for correcting the translation mistake! Afterwards, it became famous for its new tagline “The world’s private bank”.


Auto giant Ford is second on the list, particularly regarding its ad campaign in Belgium. Unfortunately, the company did not succeed in enticing the consumers to buy its cars with the slogan “Every car has a high-quality body”, as it was perceived negatively and far from its intended meaning in the European country. It was read as “Every car has a high-quality corpse”. Hence, it is extremely important for the company to be fully and well aware of the targeted market language and culture.


The soda- manufacturer giant Pepsi made a marketing translation mistake when it decided to expand into China with the slogan of its marketing campaign; “Pepsi brings you back to life.” However, it was mistranslated in the Chinese language and its meaning completely changed to: “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead”!

Mercedes Benz:

German Auto giant Mercedes Benz was not immune to translation mistakes when it entered the Chinese market, resorting to literal translation of its tagline “Benzi” which means “rush to die” in the Chinese culture. Certainly, this poor translation did not resonate positively with the Chinese customers, rather the company received a backlash for not taking into consideration the cultural and language differences. Learning from this mistake, the company quickly changed the slogan into more positive one that embraces the desired meaning “Benchi” that means “run fast like you fly high”. Hence, lies the high importance of gaining a comprehensive cultural awareness and understanding about the targeted group while launching ad campaigns.
Vera Mirzoyan, an international marketing specialist at AIST Global, said customization is the key, especially when considering language, culture, visuals, gestures and trends.
“It is imperative to study the culture and the way people communicate on a daily basis, ensuring you have an expert and specialized team who know the culture you’re marketing to ensure your message will be interpreted in a way that resonates rather than upsets,” said Kellner. Suggesting cross-referencing your campaign with local experts before you promote it. This will help you gain inside oversight and feedback.
In a nutshell, if you like your business to expand on a global scale, there are a few steps you can take to avoid international marketing fails like those described above. Identify whom you are targeting with your marketing strategy, and modify your advertising accordingly.
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