Marketers occasionally make stupid mistakes when innocently trying to deliver a message to their customers. These stupid mistakes happen for a lot of reasons including cultural insensitivity, poor grammar choices, language translation, and even spelling errors. But, my research indicates the most common cause is just being plain old stupid.

In no particular order, here are some stupid messages, signs, and instructions from well intentioned but very stupid marketers:

– The Pepsi slogan “Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation” was translated into Chinese as “Pepsi Will Bring Your Ancestors Back from the Grave”.
– Coors translated its slogan “Turn it loose” into Spanish and it read as “Suffer from Diarrhea”.
– The Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan “Finger Licking Good” in its first Chinese campaign read as “Eat Your Fingers Off”.
– Owner’s manuals in more than a million Honda vehicles list a toll-free number to help drivers reach the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unfortunately, Honda incorrectly prints the area code as 800 rather than 888, leading callers to a recorded message in which a woman’s sultry voice encourages them to “call 1-800-918-TALK for just 99 cents per minute.”
– In June, a research firm reveals that two out of every three Microsoft employees it tracked use Google, not MSN, when conducting searches on the Internet.
– On Sears hair dryer: “Do not use while sleeping.”
– On a bag of Fritos: “You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.”
– On a bar of Dial soap: “Directions: Use like regular soap”.
– On Nytol Sleep Aid: “Warning. May cause drowsiness”.
– On a Children’s Cough Medicine: “Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication.”
– In a Florida maternity ward: “No children allowed”.
– In a Texas funeral parlor: “Ask about our layaway plan”.
– Sign outside a country shop in West Virginia: “We buy junk and sell antiques”.
– Windex: “Do not spray in eyes”.
– Arm & Hammer Cat Litter: “Safe to use around pets”.
– Bic Lighter Ignite warning: “Keep lighter away from face”.
– Mattress Warning: “Do not attempt to swallow”
– RCA Television Remote Control: “Not Dishwasher Safe”
– Swanson TV Dinners: “This product must be cooked before eating.”
– Heinz Ketchup Instructions: “Put on food”
– Hershey’s Almond Bar Warning: “May contain traces of nuts”
– Chainsaw instructions: “Do not attempt to stop chain with hands.”
– Disposable razor: “Do not use this product during an earthquake.”
– Toner cartridge for a laser printer: “Do not eat toner.”
– A toilet bowl cleaning brush: “Do not use orally.”
– Microwave Oven: “Do not use for drying pets.”
– Portable stroller instructions: “Remove infant before folding for storage.”
– Orange Juice Can: “100% pure all-natural fresh-squeezed orange juice from concentrate”.
– Container of lighter fluid WARNING: “Contents flammable!”
– Container of salt Warning: “High in sodium”
– Press 1 for English (my personal favorite).

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2007 All rights reserved.

About the author
Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

clear formSubmit

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.