27th August 2021

As professional marketers, language is one of our most powerful instruments. But what happens when brands don’t fully understand the culture and customs of their target audience? Well, things go wrong!

For native English speakers, the phrase “Pepsi brings you back to life” probably strikes the right inspirational tone. But when Pepsi introduced their products to the Chinese market in the60s, not localising their approach appropriately left them declaring “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”. And Pepsi aren’t alone in getting their approach to global marketing VERY wrong;

In the 80s, KFC accidentally translated its slogan “Finger-Lickin Good” to “Eat your fingers off” when they opened their outlets in Beijing.

American brewer Coors turned their slang “Turn it Loose” into the very different “Suffer from Diarrhoea” when translated, poorly, into Spanish.

Ford, wanting to underscore its cars’ excellent manufacturing, launched an ad campaign with the slogan “Every car has a high-quality body”. Unfortunately for Ford, their translation interpreted ‘body ’as ‘corpse’.

Global beauty giant, Clairol’s curling iron, the “Mist Stick” came unstuck when they took the product toGermany without considering how the name would be perceived locally... “Mist”in German slang means “manure”.

And finally, Swedish giant, Electrolux missed the mark in the US with its slogan “Nothing sucks like Electrolux”.

In multicultural marketing campaigns, businesses can use language to its full potential only if the culture, customs, history as well as socio-economic and political situation is taken into account when introducing new service or product to a foreign audience.  

Today, in a globalised world, language should no longer be considered a barrier to trade internationally but rather a great tool to deliver persuasive, engaging and exciting messages regardless of culture or location.

When you need creative linguists, ilc communication can help.  With the right words and tone, your content will come alive for your global audience.

For more information contact

News and insights straight to your inbox

Receive expert updates on international marketing and communications, including tips and tricks to bring your digital content to life globally. Sign up today and receive our free ilc communications card, featuring an extensive list of international holidays.
Thank you! Your Free gift will be sent to you shortly!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.