No, it’s not another film about a family of superheroes or a documentary following members of society who lack certain skills… The Untranslatables is a non-exhaustive list I have started, comprising words or phrases that are not easily rendered in another language. Interestingly, it is these that punctuate the days of a translation project manager with the most tears and the most laughs… Read more
Back in 2014, an ad campaign by Lucozade was very eloquently entitled “Lucozade Sport vs Water.” In the video, two groups of athletes, one drinking water and one drinking Lucozade, are doing an endurance running test on a treadmill. Eventually, the “water only” athletes give up one by one, exhausted, while the Lucozade group keeps going strong. The reason is, quite simply, that Lucozade “hydrates and fuels you better than water.”
As it turned out, the Advertising Standard Authority had a lot of issues with that slogan. Although it was based on the authorised claim that “carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions enhance the absorption of water during physical exercise,” a dispute ensued between GlaxoSmithKline (the then owner of the brand) and ASA, around whether or not the wording in the ad departed too much from the authorised claim. The ASA eventually ruled that it did, and the ad was pulled off the air.
The details of the exchange between the two parties are quite technical, but they clearly illustrate one thing: in sports nutrition, claims are a big deal. Wherever there’s food marketing there are claims, and while that holds true for all types of food, it’s even more true for sports foods, considering the size of the market. According to a report from the European Commission, the EU retail market for the three categories of sports supplements, protein products, performance boosting products and sports drinks, grew by 11.2% between 2009 and 2014, reaching a total value of €3.07 billion in 2014. Read more
Near my house, there is a small shopping center dominated by Asian-owned businesses. There is a Thai restaurant, an Asian market, a Taekwondo studio…and a “dollar store” featuring a variety of cheap goods, mostly made in China.
I love the Asian dollar store. They have everything: random bits of hardware, freaky colored contacts, luggage, wigs and so much more. They also make some rather interesting merchandising decisions, like interspersing saw blades amongst the pedicure supplies.
And then there are the products that seem to have gotten lost in translation, with packaging that ranges from the awkward to the incomprehensible. Here are some of my favorites:
The Oxygen Bar
I’m not sure what this does…perhaps it’s some sort of humidifier? The words on the box are less than enlightening:
“Between noise and peace there is a bridge, Brought them together, Just like human being and nature, is alwaysinsep arable.”
You know what else should be inseparable? The letters in the word “inseparable.”
The Coffee Set
“The features of practicality and beautyshow perfection; greatestefforts and endlessseeking”
Just what I was looking for in a coffee set!
Amphibious Pal and Her Baby
“It really swim s and crawls” What is with the random spaces here?
Aquatic Animals Anion Humidifier
“Fresh: Come back to natural, purify the air.
Add wetly: Transfer water in to fog moist air
Cosmetology: Create the foggy oxygen bar, wet the skin.
Intersperse: Interior decoration, the fashion is furnished.”
Bonus: Personal Air Conditioner Instructions
This one is actually from Costco, but it was too good not to share.
When you’re trying to sell your product in a foreign market, the last thing in the world you want is to leave potential buyers scratching their heads as they try to translate your translations. Don’t rely on Google Translate. You need a skilled translator. Take a look and see how we can help!
We place a vast amount of trust in the veracity of the information provided on food packaging. For those with food allergies, their lives can depend on the information that the packaging provides. For those who are dieting (whether for personal or medical reasons), ingredients and calorific values both have to be spot on. Then there are the cooking instructions – a mistake in the details of how to cook products such as pork or fish could have fatal consequences. That’s why there are so many rules and regulations around food labelling. It’s also why translating food packaging is such a serious business.
Food labelling – the legal context
Food labelling requirements differ from country to country. In the UK, the law requires that food and drink products must have labels that are permanent, easy to read and understand, easily visible and not misleading. The label has to include the name of the food, a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date, quantity information and any necessary warnings.
These warnings include allergen information and a range of specific warnings relating to certain ingredients or preparation methods. For example, foods and drinks with more than 150 mg/l of caffeine must state that they are, “Not suitable for children, pregnant women and persons sensitive to caffeine.” Meanwhile, raw milk must state that “This milk has not been heat-treated and may, therefore, contain organisms harmful to health.”
Where a food product has two or more ingredients, these must be listed on the label, with the main ingredient first and the others following in weight order. Common allergens must be highlighted as part of the list. Read more
The history of advertising is full of translation fails. Some of them are not completely true however, “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux” is often touted as a failed slogan translation. Legend has it that the Swedish vacuum manufacturer used it for a campaign in the US when in fact, the target was the UK market only. The agency that created it was from the UK, and the pun was intended.
However, real translation horror stories do exist. Like the one involving a Ford model named Pinto. After launching it in Brazil, Ford realised that Pinto in Portuguese is a slang term for penis.
When talking about food products in particular, getting your translations right will be the first step towards a successful launch into a new market, but it won’t stop there. To attract local consumers, there is a good chance you will have to adapt other elements of your brand, such as the logo, packaging design, product formulation and (if you have a bricks-and-mortar business) even store layout. This holistic approach is called localisation. Read more
We’ve been working on a great deal of food packaging translation projects in the last few years. Helping some of the UK’s largest supermarkets and food providers gear their products for sale abroad is no small task. Large scale EU regulatory changes called the FIR are coming into force and are certainly keeping our translation teams uber busy.
One of our most recent clients Glorious Foods, really brightened the office today when 3 massive refrigeration boxes arrived filled with all manner of luxury soups and sauces. Glorious pride themselves on producing food containing bold and unexpected flavours, just looking at their product descriptions immediately shows off their passion. Translating this passion is a creative challenge for our linguists, but without doubt a very rewarding one too.
Needless to say our team were eager to sample the produce, you know to ensure our translations properly reflect the quality of the product… so in the name of education, each pot was rapidly assigned a name tag and stowed till lunch (for the most part, some of the team skipped breakfast apparently). Our office fridge now looks like it would feel right at home in a shared student flat 🙂
Big thanks again to the team at Glorious, you might just be our new favourites 😉
Take a look at their wonderful range of products over on their site www.gloriousfoods.co.uk
…now where’s that spoon?
This is a guest post from the team over at Globalvision Inc. They produce specialised software solutions for managing the packaging creation and artwork process.
As global sales opportunities continue to increase, in part due to the growth trend of emerging markets, companies continue to benefit from investing in international advertising and product exports. As well as adhering to packaging quality control regulations, which are often not clearly defined in developing countries; companies have to pay attention when adapting their offerings to the cultural and social customs of their international customers, as well as language use and verbal expressions. This is an extremely important factor when it comes to both branding and label translation.
Famous brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Milka, and The American Dairy Association have all learned about this the hard way. Due to an inadequate translation process and careless research, these companies have all suffered huge product recalls and sales losses at some point in their localisation history.
So, new brands hitting the global market should learn from the lessons the big guys taught us, instead of trying to promote and sell brands and products as you would within a domestic market, it is imperative to understand the cultural differences between countries that tend to prevent this from being a successful strategy. Read more
Our business development manager, Clare Daley, was recently interviewed by packaging today, a leading European industry magazine, about the importance of translation in international packaging. She discusses some of the concerns distributors need to address and tips on avoiding the pitfalls that can sink a packaging translation project. You can read the entire article over at the packaging today site and find out more about our specialist food packaging translation service right here.
About K International
Our translation, interpreting and technology solutions have been relied on by corporations and Government since 1986. We operate in more than 150 languages across every conceivable industry, our broad experience and commitment to quality is reflected in our client portfolio. Read more about us
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