March 22 07

this week for thursday thirteen i thought i’d do something a little different. i usually do something celebrity or tv or movie related. but, i came across this list ages and ages ago. i practically peed my pants when i read some of them. They definitely bring new meaning to the words ‘lost in translation’

(you knew i’d have to say something about American Idol. Chris Richardson in the bottom 2? what? this is why the best singers don’t ever win – Chris Daughtry, Latoya London – there’s something seriously wrong with America.)


The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as “Kekoukela”, meaning “Bite the Wax Tadpole” or “Female Horse Stuffed with Wax”, depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent “kokoukole”, translating into “Happiness in the Mouth.”


The Dairy Association’s huge success with the campaign “Got Milk?” prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention the Spanish translation read “Are You Lactating?”

An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope’s visit. Instead of “I saw the Pope” (el Papa), the shirts read “I Saw the Potato” (la papa).


General Motors had a very famous fiasco in trying to market the Nova car in Central and South America. “No va” in Spanish means, “It Doesn’t Go”.


Pepsi’s “Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave” in Chinese.

When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the smiling baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the labels of what’s inside, since many people can’t read.


When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class seats in the Mexican market, it translated its “Fly In Leather” campaign literally, which meant “Fly Naked” (vuela en cuero) in Spanish.

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.”


Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.


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.” 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.”

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


Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick,” a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that “mist” is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the “Manure Stick.”


Coors put its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish, where it was read as “Suffer From Diarrhea.”


  1. Great list! I will be laughing all day!

    Comment by Green Eyed Girl on March 22, 2007
  2. holy crap .. hilarious!!

    Sanjaya ..oy .. now it’s getting stupid.

    Comment by Sarah on March 22, 2007
  3. ‘Bout made me spit out my coffee!

    Comment by Angela Giles Klocke on March 22, 2007
  4. Oh those were great! I don’t think I could pick a favorite though. I will have to show this to my DH – he will get a kick out of it. THanks!

    Comment by Lene on March 22, 2007
  5. “it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”

    Totally my fav!

    Fly Naked! :))


    p.s. I agree with you about American Idol. 100%

    Comment by Selena Kitt on March 22, 2007
  6. Yep, the chicken one got me as well.
    They obviously need to know a man’s interested first… 😉


    Comment by Kim Rees on March 22, 2007
  7. These are a riot!

    Comment by metro mama on March 22, 2007
  8. Ha ha ha, I’ve seen these before but they are still hilarious! Happy TT!

    Lisa – Lil Duck Duck

    Comment by Mama Duck on March 22, 2007
  9. hahaha that was funny lets see i can fly naked while lactating,next to a man trying to be affectionate with a dead chicken,while he drinks coors and “suffers from diareah” too funny

    Comment by LAVENDULA on March 22, 2007
  10. I’ve got laryngitis, so this list keeps making me cough and hack and gasp – so, so funny.

    Comment by bubandpie on March 22, 2007
  11. I knew the No va story, but the others are hysterical!

    Happy TT, Ali!

    Comment by Susan Helene Gottfried on March 22, 2007
  12. I’d seen most of those before, but the last one had me LOL because its translation is actually true if you drink too much of it!!

    Comment by Lisa on March 22, 2007
  13. Their sales were lost in translation.

    I don’t think I want an aroused man to make me some chicken salad sandwiches.

    Comment by Jana on March 22, 2007
  14. […] Just be careful translating your stuff. Don’t be like some companies. | comment privately | digg it | save it | print it | email it […]

    Pingback by Translation at effective web ministry notes on March 22, 2007
  15. That was classic Ally!!

    Comment by Waya on March 22, 2007
  16. HI-larious!!!! Love that “Got Milk” one — heck, love all of them!

    Comment by Haley-O on March 22, 2007
  17. Never heard these before. This is funny stuff.

    Comment by Rose on March 22, 2007
  18. These are great! I heard a few of them before, but most are new to me!

    Happy Thursday!

    Comment by Penny on March 22, 2007
  19. i’m laughing a lot but too busy to say more… 😛

    Comment by lara on March 22, 2007
  20. SIX. Fav.

    Comment by Haley on March 22, 2007
  21. HAHAHAHAHA. Number 8. Geez.

    Comment by Rebecca on March 22, 2007
  22. more examples of how american/canadian countries think they are at the center of the universe.

    and I am playing fafarazzi thanks to your suggestion

    Comment by Sparky Duck on March 22, 2007
  23. Tagged ya!!

    Comment by Haley-O on March 23, 2007
  24. There’s nothing like a funny Thursday Thirteen to start your Saturday morning right!!! OK, so I’m a little behind.

    Comment by Di on March 24, 2007
  25. Ahhh … I have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. Having spent MANY years in advertising and knowing some of these already … but I still get such a kick out of it. 🙂

    Comment by Sandra on March 24, 2007

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