Top 5 Hilarious Global Branding Blunders

There have been some pretty big branding blunders in the past, many of which have reached classic status and are often found in the ‘What Not to Do Section’ of many a marketing textbook. While it may seem unfathomable that such huge mistakes can go unnoticed, they can, and often do – even by the biggest of brands.

If you’re a global brand, it is important to understand how your brand and your advertising campaigns are perceived in foreign countries. Checking the translation of your name, tagline, or logo seems fairly important, right? Well, a significant number of brands have made the mistake of creating text in their native language and translating it directly.

Here are our top 5 branding blunders of all time:

American Dairy Association

One of our favourite examples of this is when the American Dairy Association used its famous “Got Milk?” slogan in Spanish-speaking countries, where it was directly translated as “Are You Lactating?”. Needless to say, this caused some considerable embarrassment for the US-based milk company.

Parker Pens

Another example of an English to Spanish translation gone wrong comes from Parker Pens, who brought their product to Spain with the slogan “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”. This actually translates as “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”. How unfortunate.


When car manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz entered the Chinese market for the first time under the brand name “Bensi”, little did they realise this actually means “rush to die.”


Coca-Cola’s brand name, when first marketed in China, was in some instances translated as “Bite The Wax Tadpole.”


Chinese consumers became rather unsettled when the KFC tagline “finger licking good” was translated as “eat your fingers off.”

The Lesson?

All of the mistakes mentioned above could have been easily avoided with attention to detail and some due diligence. While these epic fails can be entertaining from our perspective, they can be expensive for the company, so always remember to check your marketing output!

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