Expanding our business internationally can be exciting, but in order for this expansion to succeed, it is necessary to attract the international consumer and not send the wrong message, which can not only discourage the consumer from buying your product or service but can also lead to major losses for your company.
Many companies have learned the hard way that an ad or a marketing campaign must be carefully designed for a foreign audience. The translation of a brand message or a company motto, for example, is of paramount importance for a global brand as it can affect a marketing campaign even before it starts.
This was exactly what happened with Pepsodent, the toothpaste brand, and its advertising slogan, “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent!” The slogan resonates in cultures that look at white teeth as a sign of good health and good grooming. However, when Pepsodent entered the Southeast Asian market using the same ad campaign, the brand failed. The reason is that in many of the regions in Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam, Indonesia and some parts of the Philippines, it is a tradition among members of different tribes to blacken their teeth because they believe that it enhances their sex appeal. It is not a case of mistranslation, but a lack of research and preparation for product and brand localization.
The end result? Pepsodent had to pull out of the Southeast Asian market for this reason.