Marketing Mistakes: I always get my sin

Mistakes always happen, if  lucky cross cultural marketing blunders will only cause hilarity. Where not, they can cause offence and have major financial consequences. Here are a few of the blunders that some big boys made. With all their marketing budgets they can still get things wrong.


1.    Locum is a Swedish company. As most companies do at Christmas they sent out Christmas cards to customers. In 1991 they decided to enhance their logo with a some holiday spirit by replacing the “o” in Locum with a heart. You can see the result:

2.    The Swedish furniture giant IKEA somehow agreed upon the name “FARTFULL” for one of its new desks. Maybe not the smartest decision ever.

3.    In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into Schweppes Toilet Water. Not the greatest name for a drink.

4.    United Airlines unknowingly got off on the wrong foot during its initial flights from Hong Kong.  To memorialize the occasion, they handed out white carnations to the passengers.  When they learned that to many Asians white flowers represent bad luck and even death,  they swiftly changed to red carnations.

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

6.    When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as they did in the U.S., with the beautiful Caucasian baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of what’s inside, since most people can’t read.

7.    When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” Instead, the company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

8.    Frank Perdue’s chicken slogan, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken” was translated into Spanish as “It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”

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