Email campaigns lost in translation

Email is a cost effective way of communicating with a global customer base. However, an email campaign (or any marketing campaign for that matter) that has been designed for one audience should never be simply ‘cut and pasted’ and sent out to prospects in other markets.

It’s cruel to laugh, but in today’s post, to illustrate the importance of thorough country research, here are some hilarious (although probably not for the brands in question) blunders that could have almost certainly been avoided had these companies conducted detailed research and sought advice from experts.

Pepsi promises more than they can deliver:

Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” was a strap-line coined by the company in an effort to expand their market share and convince the younger generation that this product belonged to them. However, little did they know that the phrase translated literally into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave” in Chinese.

Honda gets dirty:

Honda introduced their new car ‘Fitta’ in 2001 to Nordic countries. Much to their dismay, in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, ‘Fitta’ is a vulgar word used to refer to a woman’s genitals. It wasn’t long before they changed the cars name to ‘Jazz’.

Fowl play:

When expanding to the Hispanic market, Perdue Chicken found that their slogan got terribly garbled.  The original slogan, “it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” appeared next to a photo of Perdue (the man behind the brand) with one of his birds on billboards all over Mexico with a caption that translated to “It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused.”

As the above illustrate, it’s critical that businesses take time to cautiously vet marketing materials when taking a marketing campaign outside of the country it was designed for. If you’re using a translator, ask for a transliteration, not a literal translation! To save yourself from ever suffering extreme embarrassment in new markets, you must take linguistic and cultural variations seriously.

As always, I love to read your thoughts, tips and questions, so please don’t hesitate to speak your mind below, or tweet @dotdigital – we always read and respond to them.

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