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Watch Those Translations!

American Demographics, February, 1992, p.14

Communicating with a target market means more than tossing out catchy slogans. A few companies learned this the hard way when they tried to translate their catchy English slogans directly into Spanish. Braniff beckoned its passengers to "Fly in Leather," and Eastern Airlines proclaimed that "We Earn Our Wings Daily." Both of these now-defunct airlines were terribly mistaken. A Spanish speaker would think Braniff was asking its riders to "Fly Naked," and a Spanish translation of the Eastern slogan evoked a final destination in heaven, following death. A few classic marketing blunders: General Motors discovered too late that "Nova" literally means "Doesn't go" in Spanish. Coors encouraged its English-speaking customers to "Turn It Loose," but the phrase in Spanish meant "Suffer from Diarrhea." Budweiser's "King of Beers" becomes "Queen of Beers" in Spanish because the Spanish word for beer, "cerveza," has a feminine ending. And when Frank Perdue said, "It Takes a Tough Man to Make a Tender Chicken," Spanish speakers heard "It Takes a Sexually Stimulated Man to Make a Chicken Affectionate."