I recently read a horror story about American Airlines…
Nothing to do with the airline stories we’ve heard lately, where people are being dragged off planes or worse.
No, this story was about a serious marketing mistake.
Some years ago, American Airlines was promoting its new leather seats and advertised that passengers could “fly in leather.”
Unfortunately, in Spanish — the second most spoken language in the world — the literal translation of the phrase actually meant “fly naked” instead.
It’s reminiscent of what happened with the Chevy Nova fiasco in the 1970s. The car was a flop right out of the gate in Spanish-speaking countries, because “no va” translates to “doesn’t go.”
Now, there may be a worse way to promote a vehicle, but you’d have to look pretty hard to find it.
There’s a lesson here, of course…
When modifying marketing materials for an international audience, it is critical that what you’re saying translates (both literally and figuratively).
Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.