Companies that are already in an international market will know that having a strong translator on their team is crucial for succeeding globally. As we’ve witnessed in the video, having someone bilingual in your company is not the same thing as having a translator and there are so many mistakes that bilingual individuals can make that can ruin a business deal or offend a potential client. Here are some examples of businesses that have made ridiculous mistakes due to poor translations.

‘Do Nothing’

Found in Translation

In the essay Found in Translation, authors Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche focus on the importance of translation in all aspects of life. From natural disasters to political meetings translators connect people together and help alleviate any miscommunications. One of their primary examples was when HSBC Bank had to do a global rebranding project in regards to damaging information that was spread about their company. Their slogan “Assume Nothing” was translated to “Do Nothing” in many different countries around the world. Their faux pas hurt their rebranding campaign and turned them into an international laughing stock.

Lost in Translation

In 2011 it was reported that Super Mario Bros video game designer and spokesperson for Nintendo, Shigeru Miyamoto was going into early retirement. This statement was based off of a joke that Miyamoto said to an interviewer, that was poorly translated. Technically the video game designer did say “Inside our office, I’ve been recently declaring, I’m going to retire, I’m going to retire,” however it was spoken in a humorous way. It was meant to convey how tired he was but the bilingual person translating for the interviewer did not pick up on the undertones. Because of this mistake Nintendo stocks went down by 2% globally, causing a lot of chaos within the company.

Reincarnation through Pepsi

Yet another ridiculous branding issue, when Pepsi released their “Pepsi Generations” campaign, the popular slogan “Helps ‘em come alive” was mistranslated in a few different countries around the world. One particularly controversial translation in China converted the saying into “bringing your dead ancestors back to life.” This hilarious mishap caused a major drop in sales for the brand overseas and incited a multi-million dollar marketing cleanup to fix their relationship with China.

All of these examples are perfect reasons as to why a company should invest in a good translator to look over their international affairs. A plummet in sales or taking a nose dive in the stock market can really hurt your business. A bilingual employee will not be able to fully understand what a translator can. A professional translator will ensure that there are no mistakes while reaching out to an International market.

Have any translation questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us, we’d be happy to answer any inquiries that come our way!

Andrea Spila
Andrea Spila

Andrea Spila è traduttore e web writer. Prima di laurearsi in filosofia e di ottenere un dottorato in pedagogia sperimentale, ha insegnato l’inglese nelle scuole materne ed elementari. Ha lavorato anche come interprete, in particolare per scrittori e artisti, tra i quali spiccano Rebecca Solnit e Ken Loach. Nel 1999 ha fondato Traduttori per la Pace, un’associazione di volontari che offrono le proprie competenze alle organizzazioni della società civile impegnate nella difesa dei diritti umani e dell’ambiente. 
Oltre a scrivere, Andrea ama cantare, arrampicare e andare in canoa. 

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