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Unsuccessful Marketing Campaigns

It’s very important for businesses to grow. And of course a lot of companies want to grow not only in their own country, but overseas. They invent a catchy slogan and use it everywhere with an appropriate translation, right? Wrong. Many businesses face the fact of cultural differences and translation problems.

We are all different so are the languages we speak. So if you are a business owner you should carefully choose your marketing campaign. So let’s have a look on those businesses that wanted to be the best in their marketing strategy, but failed.

Braniff Airlines

In 1987 Braniff Airlines started promotion of its new leather seats in South America. The original name of the campaign was “Fly in Leather.” And while the Spanish translation, “Vuela en Cuero,” was appropriate throughout much of Latin America, it had different connotations in Mexico, where the expression also means “Fly naked.” The promotion may have sounded great to some flyers, but it wasn’t the message the airline intended to send.

Proctor & Gamble

Another example is Proctor & Gamble which started to sell its Pampers diapers in Japan. They sold them in a package with an image of a stork delivering a baby. The same advertisement did it best in the USA, but the Japanese were really confused as they didn’t understand why there was a stork. The reason of this misunderstanding is that the story of storks bringing babies to parents isn’t a part of Japanese folklore. In fact, in Japan babies are brought by giant floating peaches.


When Pepsi decided to enter the Chinese market of course they needed a great. And it was such in English – ‘Pepsi Brings You Back to Life’. However, again the translation failed and the Chinese variant sounded like ‘Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave’. It isn’t really a great slogan for country where reverence for ancestors is an important part of the culture.


Another unsuccessful campaign was launched by Orange, a telecom operator. When they started to sell their services in the Northern Ireland they used the following slogan – “The future’s bright … the future’s Orange.” However, in the North the term “Orange” is linked to the Orange Order, the Protestant organization (viewed by many Catholics as both sectarian and hostile). The implied message that the future is bright, the future is Protestant, loyalist didn’t resonate with the Catholic Irish population.


An American toothpaste brand Pepsodent tried to advertise its products in Southeast Asia by emphasizing that it “whitens your teeth.” However this advantage wasn’t valued by people. Why? It’s because the target audience considering the local natives chew betel nuts to blacken their teeth, which they find attractive.


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