June 2, 2021
Paula Ribeiro

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 ELETCTROLUX, a successful manufacturer of home appliances from Sweden. Its products are available worldwide and, in most countries, the brand was able to get away using English for their marketing and advertising campaigns. However, it was taken out of its comfort zone when it launched an ad campaign for its vacuum cleaner with the tagline, 'Nothing sucks like an Electrolux’  in the United States, where English is spoken by the majority of the population. The tagline is grammatically correct, but the Scandinavian company failed to understand that the term "sucks" has a different connotation in the USA, where, when used idiomatically, saying something sucks means something is bad or you dislike something. So, who would go for a bad vacuum cleaner even from a very successful manufacturer in Europe???? We wouldn’t!!!

In most cases it is difficult to translate advertising slogans from one language to another, simply because the slogans are effective in the native language, but have different meanings or are difficult to explain in another language. So, what would be the solution to avoid this type of translation errors? Once again, work with professional and competent human translators is the solution!

Paula Ribeiro
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