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BeeD

The Meaning Behind the Logo

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On this page you will find links to video, audio and internet material on branding and advertising as well as teaching modules and language exercises based on the various resources.

Reviewed by Merlot

Edited by BeeD

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This is also a good resource for ICT and ties in with units in Year 7 and Year 8. I am interested in the overlap between ICT and media studies. Perhaps "Knowledge is a seamless cloak" - or does that sound too "sixties" ;)

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As a linguist (German and French) I am amused by what goes wrong when advertisements are translated or when advertising slogans in English are coined by non-native speakers. I have a large collection of such "bloopers" gleaned from various sources on the Web. Here's a small sample:

In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan Come alive with the Pepsi Generation came out in Chinese as Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the grave.

When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to say It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you. However, the company mistakenly thought the Spanish word embarazar meant embarrass. Instead the ads said: It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.

Chicken-man Frank Perdue's slogan sounds much more interesting in Spanish. It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken got terribly mangled in Spanish translation. A photo of Perdue with one of his birds appeared on billboards all over Mexico with a caption that explained: It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused or It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate.

Coors put its slogan, Turn it loose, into Spanish, where it was read as Suffer from diarrhoea.

Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.

When Braniff translated a slogan touting its upholstery, Fly in leather, it came out in Spanish as Fly naked.

The Microsoft ad slogan, as translated into Japanese: If you don't know where you want to go, we'll make sure you get taken. (No wonder Macs are the best selling computer in Japan.)

Clairol introduced the Mist Stick, a curling iron, into German only to find out that Mist is slang for (to put it delicately) manure. Not too many people had use for the Manure Stick. This is the reason why Rolls Royce decided not to call one of its models the Silver Mist - for fear of lost sales in the German-speaking world.

When Chevrolet developed the Chevy Nova, they decided to market it heavily in Mexico, where the name translates as doesn't go. The car was later renamed Caribe.

Ford had a similar problem in Brazil when the Pinto flopped. The company found out that Pinto was Brazilian slang for tiny male genitals. Ford pried all the nameplates off and substituted Corcel, which means horse.

The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, Salem - Feeling Free, was translated into the Japanese market as When smoking Salem, you will feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty.

The German advertising office of Wang computers came up with the unfortunate

slogan Wang cares.

Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.

The name Coca-Cola in China was first rendered as something that when pronounced sounded like Coca-Cola: Ke-kou-ke-la. Unfortunately, the Coke company did not discover until after thousands of signs had been printed that the characters used meant bite the wax tadpole or female horse stuffed with wax, depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 Chinese characters and found a close phonetic equivalent, Ko-kou-ko-le, which can be loosely translated as happiness in the mouth.

Also in Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan finger-lickin' good came out as eat your fingers off.

An American tee-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market, promoting the Pope's visit. Instead of the desired I saw the Pope (el Papa) the shirts proclaimed in Spanish I saw the Potato (la Papa).

Hunt-Wesson introduced its Big John products in French Canada as Gros Jos before finding out that the phrase, in slang, means big breasts. In this case, however, the name problem did not have a noticeable effect on sales.

Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.

In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into Schweppes Toilet Water.

Japan's second-largest tourist agency was mystified when it entered English-speaking markets and began receiving requests for unusual sex tours. Upon finding out why, the owners of Kinki Nippon Tourist Company changed its name.

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