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Corporate Blunders: Part 1

Corporate Blunders

Last updated on November 22nd, 2017 at 03:41 pm

While transforming an entire product line to reach an audience speaking/reading a different language is exceedingly expensive (i.e. new packaging, new labeling, new user manuals, new marketing, shipping, sales and customer service), the rewarding results of a successful transition are often great for business. As goods and services get more and more expensive, the people in charge, in an effort to minimize initial overhead, often look for shortcuts, or the least expensive option to solve problems with shipment.

Design layouts may be simplified, initial advertising may be at a minimum, and perhaps one or two customer service employees are made available to speak the region’s language.

The one thing that should not be treated with such a lackadaisical attitude are translation services as well as marketing translations.

This multi-part series reflects on past corporate blunders that companies have made in their international transition, due to mistranslations or unrecognized localization problems their product had.

¿Tiene Leche?

The United State’s “Got Milk?” campaign, when directed towards the Mexican Audience, used either a machine translation or one done by someone with basic knowledge of Spanish(Mexico). “Tiene Leche” translates literally to “Do you have Milk?” Unfortunately, there is also a fairly serious double entendre that is much less prevalent in the American reading of the slogan. The Mexican community found the campaign to be offensive, prompting the localization of the “Got Milk” slogan to-

Toma Leche

A more direct message, this translates to “Drink Milk,” which is a step in a different marketing direction, but regardless a significantly less offensive means of communicating with the Spanish speaking populace of Mexico. 

This case proves the importance of proper localization when conducting marketing translations for campaigns and products.  A lack of effort or diligence in ensuring that your translation will be well received by your target audiences can cost you in brand reputation.

Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela and has a BS in computer engineering. As President of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the Company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs. 20 Years of experience in marketing Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.