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Marketing Screw-Ups

Take a break from the drudgery with some of these jokes, song parodies, anecdotes and assorted humor that has been collected from friends & from websites across the Internet. This humor is light-hearted and sometimes slightly offensive to the easily-offended, so you are forewarned. I have taken care to censor "humor" with overt sexual overtones (or undertones) and hateful tirades, so it is all workplace-safe. I have also tried to warn of any links that will result in audio clips so you can take appropriate precautions. Please send any potential candidates for this humor page to the e-mail link above.

Humor #1 | Humor #2 | Humor #3


  • Coors put its slogan, "Turn it loose," into Spanish where it was read as "Suffer from diarrhea."
  • 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 German only to find out that "mist" is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the "manure stick."
  • When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the beautiful Caucasian baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of what's inside, since most people can't read. On top of that, "gerber" is a slang word for "puck" in French (thanks to Eric for this).
  • Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.
  • 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).
  • Pepsi's "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" translated into "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave", in Chinese.
  • 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."
  • The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as "Ke-kou-ke-la", 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 "ko-kou-ko-le", translating into "happiness in the mouth."
  • 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." Instead, 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."
  • The Dairy Association's huge success with the campaign "Got Milk?" prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. However, it was soon brought to their attention that the Spanish translation read, "Are you lactating?"
  • 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.
  • GM's marketed its Nova in Central and South America, not realizing that "No va" in Spanish means, "it doesn't go."
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