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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Brand culture failures: Car names translation problems

Of all products, cars have had the most translation problems. When people chuckled at General Motors’ Chevy Nova in Latin America, the automotive giant was perplexed. Until, that is, someone pointed out that ‘Nova’ means ‘It doesn’t go’ in Spanish.

Then there was the Mitsubishi Pajero sport utility that caused embarrassment in Spain, where ‘pajero’ is slang for ‘masturbator’.

Toyota’s Fiera car proved controversial in Puerto Rico, where ‘fiera’ translates to ‘ugly old woman’.

Likewise few Germans were enthusiastic about owning Rolls-Royce’s ‘Silver Animal Droppings’ car. To the English speaking world it bears the more romantic name ‘Silver Mist’.

And finally, Ford didn’t have the reception they expected in Brazil when their ‘Pinto’ car flopped. Then they discovered that in Brazilian Portuguese slang, ‘pinto’ means ‘small penis’.

Read more about most famous and funniest brand culture failures

9 comments:

Strathspeyer said...

Nice stories -- unfortunately none of them is true.
Check the out at www.snopes.com, for example.

Arthur said...

The Mitsubishi Pajero one at least is true. I live in Spain and a few years ago you could see one once in a while. After the embarrassment caused by that unfortunate campaign they decided to change the name to Montero, since Pajero means "wanker".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_Pajero

Arthur said...

The Mitsubishi Pajero one at least is true. I live in Spain and a few years ago you could see one once in a while. After the embarrassment caused by that unfortunate campaign they decided to change the name to Montero, since Pajero means "wanker".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_Pajero

Maamulaha Bogga said...

They are all true. Just because you haven't seen on TV won't make it false. I've seen three of the examples in my marketing textbook. And I speak fluently in six languages, so I know what most of these words mean.

Unknown said...

Maamulaha should do research instead of just reading marketing books. Snoopes and other sites have thoroughly documented these errors. Marketing texts have used the Chevy NOVA example for years, but it is not true. In fact, the name that is sited that they changed the name to is a Volkswagen, not a Chevy. Marketing people fell for someone elses marketing ploy.

Kajo Etoje said...

Also Ford KUGA means plague; pestilence - on all ex Yugoslavia teritory
http://www.ford.si/OsebnaVozila/Kuga

Arvind Sharma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arvind Sharma said...

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Outdoor Campaign
Thanks
Brand on wheels

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