Business, Finance & Economics

The stupid things U.S. companies do


Madeline Wilson from the National Gallery of Victoria mimics the scream from Edvard Munch's famous hand-coloured lithograph version of 'The Scream.'


William West

From sea to shining sea, American companies have spent untold billions on going global.

And with good reason: the endless chase for revenue growth requires new markets to conquer, and new consumers to entice.

So to sell American stuff to all those Joe Sichuan-Packs and other newly rich in emerging markets, you have to go out and market to them. 

But here's the problem: it's never easy as culture, language and different modes of thinking can make even the biggest U.S. companies in the world look stupid.

Even worse, when things go wrong the results can be, well, hilarious. 

As proof of this global business pitfall, our friends at Business Insider have put together this great slideshow called "13 Slogans That Got Hilarious When They Were Lost in Translation."

The list comes from the business book Brand Failures: The Truth About the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Time, by Matt Haig.

And, yes, it is jam-packed with some marketing and branding doozies. 

Here's a quick sample, as compiled by Business Insider:

Pepsi spooked Chinese consumers when it didn't realize its "Come alive with Pepsi" slogan translated to "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead"

When McDonald's brought its Big Mac to France, it translated to the name "Gros Mec," which actually means "big pimp"

When Frank Perdue's chicken hit Spanish markets, its tagline got terribly mangled from "It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken" to "It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate"

Coors' "Turn it loose!" tagline took on a whole new meaning in Spain, where it translated to "You will suffer from diarrhea"

See the rest of the list here.

You won't be sorry.

For more from Thomas Mucha on Twitter: