These have done the rounds, but still worth repeating!
When the US brewery Coors put its slogan, "Turn it loose," into Spanish, it was unfortunately read as "Suffer from diarrhea".
The hair-care firm Clairol introduced the "Mist Stick", a curling iron, into German only to find out that "mist" is slang for manure. Not too many people had a use for the "manure stick".
An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market, which promoted the Pope's visit. Instead of "I saw the Pope" (el Papa), the shirts read "I saw the potato" (la papa).
When Pepsi launched it's "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" campaign in China, it was translated into "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave".
And Coke also had a problem there! The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as "Ke-kou-ke-la", meaning "Bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax", depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent "ko-kou-ko-le", translating into "happiness in the mouth".
Canabalism? - When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the beautiful Caucasian baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the label of what's inside, since most people can't read.
When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you". Instead, the company thought that the word "embarazar" (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant"!
Not too sure about this last one, since I thought "embarazar" was the Spanish for "embarrass". Perhaps urban myth?
The Vauxhall Nova is originally the Opel Corsa, designed in Germany. It is known as the Corsa all over Europe, I don't know why Vauxhall changed its name to Nova in the UK (maybe because Corsa might have been a reminder of Corsica, hence some Mr Buonaparte, which might have been a sales killer) (just speculating)
Location: Propping up bars in the Lands of D H Lawrence and Bishop Bonner
American computer giant Wang, wished to introduce an after-sales service programme called WangCare....... went down well in the UK
Many,many years ago, I worked in a lab and used a piece of equipment called a Wayne Kerr meter. Can anyone remember what they actually measured because no-one at work believes that they really existed!
It wasn't only the Nova/Corsa, there were also the Kadett/Astra, Ascona/Cavalier, Vectra/Cavalier, Rekord/Carlton, Omega/Carlton, etc.
I heard t'was because GM (or their predecessors) feared 'Opel' wouldn't sell in post-WW2 Britain, as it was seen as a German brand. Hence they ran with Vauxhall, a definitively British name, and differentiated the models. This might also be an Urban Legend.
Oops, I'm turning into a trainspotter. Time for a cheese sandwich...
Wayne Kerr (electronic component testers) still going strong in Chichester. My recollection is it was started by Mr Wayne and Mr Kerr, but I cannot find anything on their website to back this up. I believe they answer the phone as Kerr Electronics!
Again, slightly off-topic -- but I think relevant, I was told by an ex-naval chap (a retired admiral, it must be said) that there was a bit of a problem when it was decided during the First World War that females could become serving members of the Royal Navy.
These ladies are called WRENS (can't be bothered to google the acronym), but the original name for them was the Women's Auxillary Naval Corps.
Then someone at War Office realised the problem with the acronym.....
Location: Well, this is cheaper than a Personal Title!
Apparently, POWERGEN have just bought up their Italian counterparts. Initial suggestions for the south European subsidiary included simply adding the suffix '-Italia'. Quickly rethought when it was first written down and some bright spark realised that the result became 'PowerGenItalia'.