Painful Advertising Mistakes – #3

May 22, 12 Painful Advertising Mistakes – #3

We continue our blog on Painful Advertising Mistakes when launching a campaign to a multicultural market.

Painful Advertising Mistake #3

Rule: With over twenty different Spanish speaking countries around the globe, be wary that Hispanic cultural norms and beliefs change from country to country.

“My Car is Not a Whore”

The automotive industry is notorious for these mistakes. Some examples include Mazda’s La Puta which translates to “Whore” in Spain’s dialect of Spanish, and Chevy’s Nova which unfortunately translates to “it won’t go,” not the ideal message to send while trying to sell a car.

Similarly, Mitsubishi’s named their Pajero car model after a type of mountain cat in Argentina. However Pajero means “wanker” in Spain. In Latin America, Pajero might be taken for something a little bit more R rated. Unlike Mazda and Chevy, Mitsubishi researched the market and changed the name of the Pajero to Montero before releasing the model in American and Latin American countries, successfully sidestepping translation frustration.

“Companies must seek professional language consultants prior to launching any new campaign in a foreign country, especially targeting multiple countries. Using simple translation tools will eventually cost you in the end,” said George L. San Jose, President and Chief Operating Officer of The San Jose Group.

Moral of the Story: Realize words have different denotations in different dialects that depend on cultural trends.

Stay tuned for Painful Mistake #4 in a future blog.

Cover Photo Source: Hatchapong Palurtchaivong /

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