Pepsi's Woe in China: Lost in Translation.

From the website:

When Pepsi cola tried to expand their market into China, they had a terrible time. The product was good enough, but they just couldn't get their advertising slogans to work in the Chinese market. Something seemed to get lost in translation.

In the 1950s, Pepsi's slogan was "Be sociable." This was translated as, "Be intimate." Not exactly a great message considering China's political position in the '50s. Sales actually went down instead of up.

In the '60s, Pepsi's slogan was, "Now it's Pepsi for those who think young." That was translated as, "New Pepsi is for people with the minds of children." Sales fell even further.

Not knowing what else to do, Pepsi hurriedly changed its marketing once again, but the new "Come alive with Pepsi!" slogan became "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead." Noting the problem, Pepsi switched to "Come alive! You're in the Pepsi generation," but this was translated as "Resurrect! Your body will be made of Pepsi!"

At that point the company just plain gave up. They never did overcome the translation problem.

To this day, cola drink sales in China are dominated by a local brand, Bite the Wax Tadpole.

And Pepsi wasn't the only company with this problem: Budweiser's "For all you do, this Bud's for you" is translated to "All you get for your work is a beer."

See more translations (probably not real, but still very funny!) Link

So is the Pepsi story real or just an urban legend? Even Snopes doesn't know.


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Although funny, there are so many things wrong with this story. Pepsi was not sold in China during the 1950s, nor was any other product from the evil capitalist juggernaut, the U.S.A. Even Coca-Cola didn't get into China until the 1980s (when, interestingly, I remember part of this story being told about them: the slogan was "Coke adds life," being translated as "Coke brings your ancestors back from the dead.").

You can't convince me that a company of Pepsi's size didn't think of hiring someone who speaks or writes Mandarin to formulate their advertising. After visiting China last year, there was NO shortage of Coke or Pepsi products anywhere.
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I've heard a few versions of this story. One of them has Coca-Cola being translated as Bite the Wax Tadpole.

You should put the word out for someone who speaks Mandarin or Cantonese.
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