SLIPS OF THE TONGUE RESULT IN CLASSIC MARKETING ERRORS

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Michael Christie, owner and general manager of Gerard Linguistic Services, a New York-based translation services company, provides Advertising Age International with a list of 10 classic cross-border marketing mistakes.

Tropicana attempted to market its orange juice to Miami's Cuban population, labeling its product jugo de China. The Cubans were simply not receptive. To Puerto Ricans china translated to "orange," but to Cuban-Americans it meant "China"-and the Cubans just weren't in the market for Chinese juice.

When does a radio contest offering as a prize two tickets to Disneyland fail? When that promotion is solely targeted to the Hispanic market. A Los Angeles radio station quickly discovered that this is a group that values its large and extended families-and asking them to choose two amongst many was insulting.

A U.S. company exporting its goods to the Middle East inadvertently stylized designs vaguely resembling crosses and stars on its packaging. In this market, where Islam is the dominant religion, this was highly offensive and the company was booted out of the market for using Judeo-Christian symbols in its packaging.

Muslims in Bangladesh rioted and ransacked Thom McAn stores when they mistook the Thom McAn logo on some sandals for the Arabic letters for Allah. One person was killed and 50 people were wounded before the melee ended.

A baby food company failed in an African marketing venture when the populace mistook the jar's photo of a baby to mean there were ground-up babies inside-literally, baby food. Thus, be very careful when using photos alone to describe your product's contents.

The number four and the color white caused problems for an American company in Japan. Not realizing that both this innocent number and color symbolized death they offered their product in white packaging-in quantities of four.

Vicks had to change its product name to Wicks before entering the German market when it was discovered that Vicks sounded like a German expletive.

Pepsodent, not realizing that in Southeast Asian cultures, darkly stained teeth is the goal, not a misfortune, ran its usual campaign promoting its product's whitening qualities. Sales did not top the charts.

Pepsico's former "Come Alive with Pepsi" campaign was forced to undergo a rewrite in China when it was discovered that the direct translation was "Bring your ancestors back from the dead."

As the literal translation of Nova to Spanish means "star," why then, General Motors wanted to know, were Puerto Rican car dealerships so unaccommodating to this model? That's because when spoken aloud it sounds like no va-which means "it does not go." GM changed the name Nova to Caribe.

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