Global brands understand the importance of appealing to international audiences. This means that their messaging should be perfectly translated to suit their target markets across the world. But even big brands make embarrassing translation mistakes.
In the past, translation errors have caused disastrous results for some brands trying to penetrate new foreign markets. Whether it was caused by a lack of cultural knowledge, inappropriate translation methods, or sub-par tools to help save on the cost of translation, here’s a look at some of the most embarrassing translation mistakes that went viral for all the wrong reasons!
Rounding up Funny Translation Mistakes Made by Big Brands
HBSC Holding’s “Do Nothing”
Starting in 2004, HBSC Holdings rolled out its Assume Nothing campaign. After doing great for five years, they had to withdraw it after not considering how their tagline would look once translated into other languages. The private bank ended up spending $10 billion in producing a re-branding campaign and introducing its new tagline of “The world’s private bank” to its global client base.
KFC’s “Eat Your Fingers Off”
Most of us are familiar with the “Finger Lickin Good” tagline used by Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sadly, the brand didn’t consider the outcome of translating its slogan for the Beijing market. Over there, it came out as “Eat Your Fingers Off”, which is all but appetizing. The good news is that the error was picked up very quickly, and branding specialists quickly fixed what could have been one of the worst translation mishaps out there.
Facebook’s Celebration of an Earthquake
Back in 2018, when a massive earthquake hit Indonesia, many people shared their statuses on Facebook and other social media platforms. To the horror of many users, Facebook accidentally added balloons and confetti to the status updates on some of these posts. What caused this misunderstanding and poor translation? The Indonesian word “Selamat”, means “to survive,” “be safe”, or alternatively, “congratulations.” Facebook’s algorithm misinterpreted the context here, which is often the problem with machine translation. In response, it added festive animations to the posts.
Netflix’s Squid Game Slip Up
Although the acclaimed Netflix series Squid Games was a hit across the globe, it wasn’t free of translation bloopers. A year after Netflix released the Korean series, Korean natives started pointing out hundreds of subtle literal translation mishaps in the English version of the series. Many translated texts don’t consider the economic and social context of Korean life in the lines of the characters. With a new season on the way, we can only hope Netflix listened to the public and implemented localization techniques to help ensure more accurate translations.
Avoid Embarrassing Translation Mistakes by Using Professional Translation Services
Although they are pretty common, bad translations can have detrimental effects, depending on the context in which it happens. This is why it is so essential to work with professional translators. Linguists have a deep understanding of the cultural nuances that are deeply engrained in language.
The takeaway from these bad translation fails is that it is essential to plan for localization, internationalization, transcreation, and translation services if you want to make your brand a globally recognized icon.
Embarrassing marketing translations can be effectively avoided by working with a professional translation company. Day Translations, Inc. works with qualified translators who are native speakers. Our team of seasoned professionals can help you avoid embarrassing advertisement translations.