Professional translation services are there to offer a wide variety of customers an effective way to communicate with people that speak a different language, no matter who they may be. In this vein, one of the primary roles of the translator is to exercise a strong degree of cross cultural awareness, thereby enabling themselves to avoid certain blunders that could completely compromise the objective of the client at hand.
However, some people/companies think they’re sufficiently aware of cross cultural issues (or simply don’t even have them on the radar) and that they’re able to translate a message on their own. Given some of the examples below, it is clearly obvious that they do so at their own risk!
As the following examples of cross cultural marketing blunders demonstrate, investing in professional translation services can save you (or especially your company) a lot of time and money. Inadequate or plainly nonexistent cross cultural marketing research will land you in a potentially very, very uncomfortable situation, and could completely discredit you in a large market. Why take that risk and take on those monetary losses when for the accessible rates of a professional translation company you can get your message across, without embarrassing mistakes?!
Here are a few examples of colossal marketing blunders that could have been avoided by contracting a professional translator:
– Pepsi launched its product on the Chinese market with an initial mistranslation of the phrase “Come alive with the Pepsi generation” which was rendered in Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.”
– Coors launched a Spanish language version of their product slogan “Turn it loose” that unfortunately ended up being interpreted by Spanish speakers as meaning something along the lines of “Suffer from diarrhea.”
– Various companies have tried launching products of different sorts on the German market, retaining the English word “Mist” even though in German it happens to mean “Manure.”
There are countless more examples of these costly mistakes. On a side note, check out www.signspotting.com and click on the “Lost in Translation Signs” link where you will find many more hilarious (and likely clientele-retardant) examples of poor translation.