Cultural Misunderstanding

Topics: Latin America, Marketing, American Company Pages: 10 (3167 words) Published: December 7, 2009
Cultural Misunderstandings | |[pic]
This is a collection of interesting (and sometimes tragic) incidents of cross-cultural miscommunication. They emphasize the importance of appreciating cultural differences when traveling or working abroad. [pic]

An American supervisor on an oil rig in Indonesia shouted at his timekeeper to take a boat to shore. Since one never berates an Indonesian in public, a mob of outraged workers chased the supervisor with axes! ~

Managers at one American company were startled when they discovered that the brand name of the cooking oil they were marketing in a Latin American country translated into Spanish as "Jackass Oil." ~

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. Some were also offended by the slogan, "Wonder where the yellow went..." interpreting it as a racial slur. Ignorant of foreign language, 3M introduced its scotch tape in Japan with the slogan, "It sticks like crazy." The Japanese interpretation of the slogan was "it sticks foolishly." ~

When Coca Cola was first marketed in China in the 1920's, the name was translated phonetically ("ke-kou-ke-la) to mean "female horse stuffed with wax" or "bite the wax tadpole" depending on the dialect. It was quickly revised to sound more like "happiness in the mouth." ~

Columbia Pictures produced a movie in Egypt that resulted in all Columbia pictures being banned from the country due to the inaccuracies: accents were Pakistani, clothes were Moroccan, and behavior was American. Most offensive was the portrayal of Gamal Abdel Nassar, the Egyptian President, kissing his wife in public--highly unacceptable in Islamic countries. ~

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. ~

Olympia office products attempted to sell its ROTO photocopiers in Chile, but did not realize until too late that roto can mean "broken" or designates the Chilean lower class. ~
American Motors tried to market its new car, the Matador, based on the image of courage and strength. However, in Puerto Rico the name means "killer" and was not popular on the hazardous roads in the country. ~

Ford had a series of problems marketing its cars internationally. Its low cost truck the Fiera meant "ugly old woman" in Spanish. It's Caliente in Mexico was found to be slang for "streetwalker." The Pinto was introduced in Brazil under the name of Corcel which was discovered to be Portuguese slang for "a small male appendage." Ford removed the nameplates and substituted the name, Corcel, which means horse. ~

A major U.S. cereal company promoted a commercial in England featuring children and directed toward them. The English, however, dislike children being used in commercials and attempts to influence them, and forced the company to change the commercial. A sales manager in Hong Kong tried to control employee's promptness at work. He insisted they come to work on time instead of 15 minutes late. They complied, but then left exactly on time instead of working into the evening as they previously had done. Much work was left unfinished until the manager relented and they returned to their usual time schedule. ~

McDonald's developed a series of "Hispanic ads." They considered all Hispanics the same until they received complaints from Puerto Rico that the "ads were too Mexican," and had to be changed. ~

A shampoo was sold in Brazil with the catchy name of Evitol--which was translated to be a "dandruff contraceptive." ~
Kellogg had to rename its Bran Buds cereal in Sweden when...
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