317 KEYWORDING IN OTHER LANGUAGES
June 14, 2000
If you think it will be a snap to keyword your images so people using other
languages can find them -- think again. To get some idea about how hard it
is to translate keywords into multiple languages consider some of the fiascos
major corporations have had in trying to market their products in other
The Nova Awards in Marketing are given in honor of GM's fiasco in trying to
market the Chevy Nova in Central and South America.
"No va" means, of course, in Spanish, "it doesn't go".
Some of the nominees for the Chevy Nova Award are:
The Dairy Association's huge success with the campaign
"Got Milk?" prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon
brought to their attention the Spanish translation read "Are you lactating?"
Coors put its slogan, "Turn It Loose," into Spanish,
where it was read as "Suffer From Diarrhea."
Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the
following in an American campaign: "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."
Clairol introduced the "Mist Stick," a curling iron,
into Germany only to find out that "mist" is slang for manure. Not too
many people had use for the "Manure Stick."
When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they
used the same packaging as in the US, with the smiling baby on the label.
Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the
labels of what's inside, since many people can't read.
Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue,
the name of a notorious porno magazine.
An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for
the Spanish market which promoted the Pope's visit. Instead of "I saw the
Pope" (el Papa), the shirts read "I Saw the Potato" (la papa).
Pepsi's "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation" translated into "Pepsi
Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave" in Chinese.
The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as
"Kekoukela", meaning "Bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with
wax", depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to
find a phonetic equivalent "kokou kole", translating into "happiness in the
Frank Perdue's chicken slogan, "It takes a strong man to
make a tender chicken" was translated into Spanish as "it takes an aroused
man to make a chicken affectionate."
When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its
ads were supposed to have read, "It won't leak in your pocket and
embarrass you. "The company thought that the word "embarazar" (to
impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: "It won't leak in your
pocket and make you pregnant!"
12. When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class
seats in the Mexican market, it translated its "Fly In
Leather" campaign literally, which meant "Fly Naked" (vuela en cuero) in