Classic Marketing Mistakes

It’s Friday and that means an opportunity to reflect on your many marketing wins and to accept praise and bouquets from a grateful sales team.

Well, put down your flowers and awards for a few minutes to enjoy these blunders that you would never ever want to commit!

Lost in Translation

1. Chevrolet stopped selling the Chevy Nova in Latin America after they discovered that “no va” means “it doesn’t go” in Spanish.

2. Mercedes-Benz entered the Chinese market under the brand name "Bensi," which means "rush to die."

3. At one time, the British white goods brand Electrolux marketed its vacuum cleaners in the U.S. with the tagline: "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."

4. Coca-Cola’s brand name, when first marketed in China, was sometimes translated as "Bite The Wax Tadpole."

5. American Motors launched a car called the ‘Matador’ in Puerto Rico. It turned out that matador was the Spanish word for ‘killer’.

6. Clairol launched a curling iron called the "Mist Stick" in Germany even though "mist" is German slang for manure.

7. Coors beer translated its slogan, "Turn It Loose," into Spanish, where it is a colloquial term for having diarrhea.

8. Ford blundered when marketing the Pinto in Brazil because the term in Brazilian Portuguese means "tiny male genitals."

9. Parker Pens, when expanding into Mexico, mistranslated "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you" into "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant."

10. Pepsi's slogan "Pepsi Brings You Back to Life" was debuted in China as "Pepsi Brings You Back from the Grave."

Lack of an Approval Process 

French fashion chain La Redoute inexplicably failed to notice this naked man in the background of a photo that appeared online and in their catalog.

Not Doing Your Homework

Bud Light chose Crested Butte, Colorado as the venue for their "Whatever USA" campaign party. Unfortunately, the residents of the quiet mountainside village in Colorado hadn’t been consulted and their protests made national headlines.

Brand Miscommunication

Disney came under fire in 2009 for releasing Hannah Montana-branded cherries. There was no connection between cherries and the Hannah Montana brand and the campaign left many fans of the childrens’ TV show bemused at the potential connotations.

In today’s social media driven society it is more important than ever to not be caught in a marketing blunder. And so, I hope you and your team amp up your processes and approvals around creative assets and triple-check everything.

Tweet me any more classic marketing mistakes at @intellibank

Happy Friday!


Rob Weisz
VP Marketing, IntelligenceBank

Sources: CrazyEgg, HubSpot, Inc & Adweek

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