The 11 Worst Foreign Ad Translation Fails

kfc chinaKFC: Watch your fingers!

Photo: sidstamm on flickr

Just because a company dedicates hundreds of millions of dollars to international advertising doesn’t mean that it uses competent translators.This April, Unilever Germany rolled out a campaign for food products using the English tagline, “Fuck the Diet,” rationalizing that the F-word is now German become slang for “let it be.”

Unilever isn’t the only one. Many huge companies, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have a history of massive (and obviously unintentional) translation fails with their tag lines.

KFC, for example, misinterpreted “finger-lickin’ good” to something more cannibalistic in Chinese.

The American Dairy Association

Original: 'Got Milk'
Translation: 'Are You Lactating?' in Mexico


Original: 'Finger-lickin' good'
Translation: 'We'll eat your fingers off' in China
(Bonus: an ad for JFK Airport's food court purposely advertised restaurants with the tagline, 'You'll definetly eat your fingers.' Yes, it was misspelled to boot).

Perdue Chicken

Original: 'It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken'
Translation: 'It takes a hard man to make a chicken aroused' and 'It takes a virile man to make a chicken pregnant' in Mexico.


Original: 'Come alive with Pepsi!'
Translation: 'Pepsi bring your ancestors back from the dead!' in Chinese


Original: 'Turn it loose'
Translation: 'Suffer from diarrhoea' in Spanish


Original: 'Every car has a high quality body'
Translation: 'Every car has a high quality corpse' in Belgium

The Jolly Green Giant

Original: 'The Jolly Green Giant'
Translation: 'Intimidating Green Monster' in Arabic


Original: 'Schweppes Tonic Water'
Translation: 'Schweppes Toilet Water' in Italian

Parker Pens

Original: 'It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you'
Translation: 'It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant' in Mexico. Embazar is a tricky verb.


Original: Coca-Cola
Translation: Ke-Kou-Ke-La means 'female horse stuffed with wax' or 'bite the wax tadpole' in Chinese, depending on the dialect


Original: 'Drivers wanted'
Translation: 'Chauffeurs wanted' in Spanish

These ads can't use a language barrier as an excuse.

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