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Lost in Translation: When Bad Hispanic Advertising Happens to Good Companies

Submitted by Juan Guillermo Tornoe
Recruiting Articles -> Hispanic Marketing & Outreach

Unfortunately, many companies miss the mark when advertising to Latinos. Usually it is because corporate decision-makers are not paying close enough attention to their Hispanic marketing efforts. They simply do not understand or carefully consider Hispanic cultural nuances when planning their outreach efforts.
Whether they are Spanish translation errors or subtle (sometimes not-so-subtle) cultural misinterpretations, these marketing mishaps are a waste of advertising dollars, often requiring additional investment to "clean up the mess" and start fresh with a whole new campaign to reach this market segment. Some classic gaffes from the past:

  • When "translated" into Spanish, the Dairy Association's astoundingly successful "Got Milk?" advertising campaign asked Latino consumers "Are you Lactating?"

  • During the Pope's visit to Miami, a local T-shirt company printed shirts that read, "I saw the Potato" because in Spanish the article "the" can be either masculine (el papa) or feminine (la papa); on the T-shirt they used the feminine, which describes the tuber rather than the head of the Catholic church.

  • In the late 1970's Braniff Airlines tried to promote their all-leather interiors by translating the English slogan "Fly in leather." Unfortunately, the literal translation invited Spanish-speaking passengers to "Fly Naked."

  • Hispanic Population Growing in Twin Cities, Minnesota

    The Hispanic population in Minneapolis-St. Paul has nearly doubled since 2000, making the region one of the fastest-growing Latino markets.

    Conquer the Hispanic Market

    As the Hispanic population grows, so does their economic power-estimated by marketing experts at more than $3 billion.