Lost in Translation

So Oreo creater Kraft Foods Inc revealed the new name of their international biscuit business last week. It’s  Mondelez. The result of an employee crowdsourcing project, it’s the amalgamation of ‘Monde’, from the Latin word for ‘World’ and ‘delez,’ meaning ‘delicious.’ It also means oral sex in Russian.

How a company, as huge as Kraft, can develop this idea and conduct umpteen focus groups across 28 countries, without realizing this colossal faux par, is beyond me. This incident is no one off, most languages are littered with mis-informed, ill-thought out brand names that got totally lost in translation.

Mitsubishi, for instance, once  named a sports utility vehicle the Pajero, only to discover that in Spanish the name literally means a crazy man who pleasures himself repeatedly into unconsciousness.

Or how about the long awaited Nokia Lumia, Lumia being Spanish slang for prostitute. It really sheds new light on their Lumia 800, Easier,Faster, Funner tagline

Remember the US Dairy Association “Got Milk?” campaign? They were so happy with it’s success they extended it to Mexico. The only problem was that the literal Spanish translation that they went with was… Are You Lactating?

Western companies find ethos translation into Chinese a particular challenge. Coca-Cola, after translating to both “bite the wax tadpole” and “female horse stuffed with wax”, eventually settled with “Happiness in the Mouth.” I guess it sounds alright, better than CitiBanks best efforts,

W ho better to look after your hard earned cash than Star-spangled Banner Bank?

And this one’s just completely nonsensical

It happens the other way too. Fancy some Shito? The Ghanaian brand of hot sauce that goes with anything (shito means Pepper)

Or the Chinese company than launched the mouth-watering Only Puke crisps.

Actually, i might just opt for an Ugly Pizza