22 Nov 3 hilarious localization fails of famous brands
Have you ever wonder how companies can take the world by storms and become global leaders in their area? The answer lies in their localization strategies. They must research the target market and audience, then adapt their products or services but also all their online visibility to each culture and nation they are in. Localization is, unfortunately, a two-sided sword. If companies do it the right way, their business will burgeon in the global market. Otherwise, it makes blunders and affects directly the brand images. Even well-known brands make localization mistakes sometimes.
Here’s three hilarious localization fails of some famous brands that will give us valuable localization lessons:
1. KFC in the China market:
“Finger lickin’ good” – the famous slogan of the multi-national franchise KFC has been widely used since 1956. When KFC first entered the China market in 1987, everything went perfectly except for the translation of this famous slogan. Somehow, “Finger lickin’ good” was translated into “Eat your fingers off”. It came as no surprise if the customers didn’t want to touch the chicken. Luckily, the marketing team of KFC quickly realized this localization fail and made changes soon enough not to affect KFC’s success in the long run.
2. Gerber in Africa and France:
The case of Gerber in Africa is quite interesting. It failed not because of the mistranslated brand name or slogan but the ignorance of target customers’ demographic factors. When breaking into the Africa market, Gerber remained the logo and package used in the US market. For a long time, the sales of Gerber products saw no increase. This was due to the fact that many African people were illiterate so pictures of what’s inside should be put on the labels to help them figure out what product it was. Since they had no clue what Gerber products are, they didn’t buy them. Understandably, the sales were not as good as expected.
In France, Gerber once again made a mistake due to not using localization services. The brand name “Gerber” is similar to the French slang word for vomiting. Needless to say, with the texture of Gerber’s baby food, along with the brand name, not many parents dared to buy the products for their babies.
3. Parker Pens in Mexico:
In 1994, Parker Pens decided to bring their well-known fountain pen that didn’t leak to the Mexico market. The slogan “Avoid embarrassment, use Parker Pens” made a splash in many markets so the marketing decided to use the same slogan for the Mexico market with some adaption. It was translated into “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”. The problem is the Spanish word for “embarrass” has another meaning. “Embarazar” means “impregnate”. “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant” slogan definitely didn’t bring Parker Pens too many customers.