Translation problems sometimes cause international marketing blunders.
And sometimes it doesn't even take words.
Samarin is a Swedish over-the-counter remedy for upset stomachs. (Like Alka-Seltzer.) A few years back they used ads that looked like comic strips with no text. There were three pictures. The first was a man looking sick, grasping his tummy. On the second picture he drank a glass of Samarin and on the third picture he was smiling again. The ad campaign was a success in Europe.
However, when the company ran the ad in Arabic-speaking newspapers they did not do too well. I guess that they didn't know that in those countries people read from right to left....
The title of the post "Bite the wax tadpole" comes from a famous marketing boo-boo by Coca-Cola when they entered the Chinese market in 1928. It's discussed in more detail here.
(via Life of Levi)