1. When General Motors first put their new Nova car on the market in Central and South America, they didn’t realize that “No va” literally means “it doesn’t go” in Spanish.
2. The “Got Milk?” campaign was wildly successful in US so the advertising was expanded to Mexico. Only the Dairy Association wasn’t aware the Spanish translation actually meant “Are you lactating?”.
3. Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico but it was brought to their attention that their ad doesn’t read “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” as intended but “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant” instead. The catch was ’embarazar’ (Spanish) actually means ‘to impregnate’.
4. When Pepsi translated their slogan “Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation” into Chinese, the interpretation read “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave”.
5. Coca Cola‘s name was once read as “Kekoukela” which, depending on the dialect, means either “Bite the Wax Tadpole” or “Female Horse Stuffed With Wax”. The company had to research more than 40,000 symbols to find a phonetic equivalent for “kokoukole” whose meaning is “Happiness In the Mouth”.