This sample essay on Examples Of Poor Cultural Language And Cultural Awareness In Advertising provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
Having a poor understanding of the influence of cross cultural differences in areas such as management, PR, advertising and negotiations can eventually lead to blunders that can have damaging consequences. It is crucial for today’s business personnel to understand the impact of cross cultural differences on business, trade and internal company organization.
The success or failure of a company, venture, merger or acquisition is essentially in the hands of people.
If these people are not cross culturally aware then misunderstandings, offence and a breakdown in communication can occur. The need for greater cross cultural awareness is heightened in our global economies. Cross cultural differences in matters such as language, etiquette, non-verbal communication, norms and values can, do and will lead to cross cultural blunders.
Cross cultural blunders that could have been avoided with appropriate cross cultural awareness training are as following:
1. Locum is a Swedish company. As most companies do at Christmas they sent out Christmas cards to customers. In 1991, they decided to give their logo a little holiday spirit by replacing the “o” in Locum with a heart.
2. The Japanese company Matsushita Electric was promoting a new Japanese PC for internet users. Panasonic created the new web browser and had received license to use the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker as an interactive internet guide.
The day before the huge marketing campaign, Panasonic realized its error and pulled the plug. The ads for the new product featured the following slogan: “Touch Woody – The Internet Pecker.” The company only realized its cross cultural blunder when an embarrassed American explained what “Touch Woody’s Pecker” could be interpreted as!
3. The Swedish furniture giant IKEA somehow agreed upon the name “FARTFULL” for one of its new desks.
4. In the late 1970s, Wang, the American computer company could not understand why its British branches were refusing to use its latest motto “Wang Cares”. Of course, to British ears this sounds too close to “Wankers” which would not really give a very positive image to any company.
5. There are several examples of companies getting tangled up with bad translations of products due to the word “mist”. “Irish Mist” (an alcoholic drink), “Mist Stick” (a curling iron from Clairol) and “Silver Mist” (Rolls Royce car) all flopping as “mist” in German means dung/manure. Fancy a glass of Irish dung.
6. “Traficante” and Italian mineral water found a great reception in Spain’s underworld. In Spanish it translates as “drug dealer”.
7. In 2002, Umbro the UK sports manufacturer had to withdraw its new trainers (sneakers) called the Zyklon. The firm received complaints from many organizations and individuals as it was the name of the gas used by the Nazi regime to murder millions of Jews in concentration camps.
8. Sharwoods, a UK food manufacturer, spent £6 million on a campaign to launch its new ‘Bundh’ sauces. It received calls from numerous Punjabi speakers telling them that “bundh” sounded just like the Punjabi word for “arse”.
9. Honda introduced their new car “Fitta” into Nordic countries in 2001. If they had taken the time to undertake some cross cultural marketing research they may have discovered that “Fitta” was an old word used in vulgar language to refer to a woman’s genitals in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. In the end they renamed it “Honda Jazz”.
10. A nice cross cultural example of the fact that all pictures or symbols are not interpreted the same across the world: staff at the African port of Stevadores saw the “internationally recognized” symbol for “fragile” (i.e. broken wine glass) and presumed it was a box of broken glass. Rather than waste space they threw all the boxes into the sea.
11. Pepsodent tried to sell its toothpaste in Southeast Asia by emphasizing that it “whitens your teeth.” They found out that the local natives chew betel nuts to blacken their teeth which they find attractive.
12. Bacardi concocted a fruity drink with the name ‘Pavian’ to suggest French chic … but ‘Pavian’ means ‘baboon’ in German. 13. In 1995, Nintendo has set the gaming world on fire with their new DS system, built entirely around its touch screen. A Korean company wanting to make a piece of dictionary software that takes advantage of the touch screen capabilities. Touch Dictionary just needed to shorten it up, to make it snappier, something cool that the kids will remember, hence “Touch Dic.”
14. The American Dairy Association’s huge success with its campaign “Got Milk?” prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention that the Spanish translation read “Are you lactating?”
15. When Gerber first started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the USA — with a cute baby on the label. Later they found out that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of what is inside since many people cannot read!
16. A company advertised eyeglasses in Thailand by featuring a variety of cute animals wearing glasses. The ad was a poor choice since animals are considered to be a form of low life and no self respecting. Thai would wear anything worn by animals.
17. The soft drink Fresca was being promoted by a saleswoman in Mexico. She was surprised that her sales pitch was greeted with laughter, and later embarrassed when she learned that fresca is slang for “lesbian.”
18. A soft drink was introduced into Arab countries with an attractive label that had stars on it–six-pointed stars. The Arabs interpreted this as pro-Israeli and refused to buy it. Another label was printed in ten languages, one of which was Hebrew–again the Arabs did not buy it. In addition to interpersonal cross cultural gaffes, the translation of documents, brochures, advertisements and signs also offer some comical cross cultural blunders.
19. Kellogg had to rename its Bran Buds cereal in Sweden when it discovered that the name roughly translated to “burned farmer.”
20. When PepsiCo advertised Pepsi in Taiwan with the ad “Come Alive With Pepsi” they had no idea that it would be translated into Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead.”
21. American medical containers were distributed in Great Britain and caused quite a stir. The instructions to “Take off top and push in bottom,” innocuous to Americans, had very strong sexual connotations to the British.
22. In Italy, a campaign for Schweppes Tonic Water translated the name into “Schweppes Toilet Water.”
23. United Airlines unknowingly got off on the wrong foot during its initial flights from Hong Kong. To commemorate the occasion, they handed out white carnations to the passengers. When they learned that to many Asians white flowers represent bad luck and even death, they changed to red carnations
24. A famous drug company marketed a new remedy in the United Arab Emirates. To avoid any mistakes they used pictures. The first picture was of someone ill, the next picture showed the person taking the medication, the last picture showed them looking well. What they forgot is that in the Arab world people read from right to left!
In conclusion, poor cross cultural awareness has many consequences, some serious others comical. It is imperative that in the global economy cross cultural awareness is seen a necessary investment to avoid such blunders.