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The world of Marketing has changed and shaped the world of capitalism today. Marketing has brought about an array of consumer goods and services today that are unmatched. However, this field of creating or increasing demand for a particular good or service has also had its share of blunders, especially when a company markets its stuff in a nation other than its own. Here are some humorous examples:

The company Electrolux, a Scandinavian company that manufactures and sells vacuum cleaners, first attempted to market in the United States in the 1970s. Their chosen slogan was, "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."

When American car company GM tried to market its popular Chevy Nova in Latin America, sales were extremely disappointing. They only later realized that the term "Nova" means "doesn't go."

American company, McDonalds, has an extremely large network of restaurants all over the world. When McDonalds first opened in Japan, the character Ronald McDonald was introduced, with his usual bright red hair and white painted face. The color and makeup combination was representative of a death omen in Japanese culture, so old Ronald had to be gotten rid of. In certain parts of Canada, the term 'Big Macs' is a snide comment referring to a woman who is well endowed.

The American baby food company Gerber, usually sells its jars of baby food with a picture of the Gerber Baby on the label. In certain areas of the Middle East, it is customary to put pictures of the contents on the label, largely due to high illiteracy rates among women. When Gerber put the Baby on the label, people thought that it was actually made from babies.

A German consumer goods company that tried to market and sell toilet paper and other paper goods in the United States named their goods, "Krapp." Another German chemical company trying to market an antifreeze in the States called it "Pis."

When Pepsi tried to use its slogan, "Come Alive with Pepsi" in Japan, the translation came to mean, "Bring back your dead ancestors with Pepsi."

As can be seen with these few examples, international business and especially international marketing has opened the door to a few laughs. With the increasing amount of globalization occuring today, it will be interesting to see what blunders may come.

We were told an example of this at the university, but unfortunately I can't remember the company in question. Anyway, the story goes that an American or European pharmaceutical company wanted to enter an Arabic market with pain-killers. They made a "cartoon strip" ad, probably for the same reason zav200 mentions; illiteracy. This cartoon showed three images from left to right:
1) a woman with a headache
2) the woman taking a pill
3) the woman being happy

What they failed to realize, is that in Arabic you read from right to left...

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