The marketing failures of international brands in China
Carefull who you do marketing for
International brands get a lot of hate for their work, partially for their marketing strategies. Sometimes it is justified, but, bo be fair, this is a difficult work. First, one have to come up with a perfect slogan, logo and other essentials - and then one have to adapt it to dozens of different countries and cultures.
Fails are almost imminent. Many countries trip over local specifics, especially in China. There are legal, cultural, and even ethical factors to take into account. And, of course, there is the language gap, which was especially noticeable when the country first opened for international business. So obviously, some companies failed in translating their messages to Chinese consumers in the right fashion.
For example, when Mercedes-Benz entered Chinese market, the automaker announced, that it’s all about “rush to die”.
That is what their new name “Bensi” meant in Chinese. Pepsi’s ambitious slogan “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” became even more ambitious in translation - soft drink promised to “Bring You Back from the Grave”.
Even the successful transition of KFC to CHina encountered the bump, when the franchise turned “finger liking good” into “eat your fingers off”.
So slogans can be difficult, but brand names proved to be even more problematic. Coca Cola’s arrival to China was harsh, since the rough translation of ko-kä-kö-la is “bite a wax tadpole（蝌蚪啃蜡.)”.
Not everyone failed their transition though - for its Chinese division, Carrefour added a phonetically similar name Jia-le-fu（家乐福.) It means “home-happy-fortunate”.