Global Marketing Blunders, And Steps To Avoid Them

Brands are facing accelerating trends in several areas worldwide. But some are not prepared, judging by Local, Global or Glocal, a white paper by WARC, sponsored by Frontify. 

The new global trends include: 

  • Sustainability and cost-of-living crisis 
  • Gen Z & the democratization of content.  
  • Blockchain and the metaverse.  
  • Traditionally, experts have advised international marketers to think globally, act locally. But the study recommends these additional steps:
  • Get the model right — Select the model and structure to manage your brand depending on the size and resources of your company. 
  • Two-way process — Listen to local markets in the interest of producing relevant guidelines driven by the right insights.  
  • Clear, dynamic governance — This must be constantly updated to help local markets navigate new channels and formats.
  • Organization and communication — Here, the wisdom is that “anything is better than emails.” But that doesn’t mean email has no place. The study continues, “Face-to-face is impossible for brand managers with oversight of dozens of markets, so a brand management platform that allows constant communication and a dynamic approach is best suited for this.”
  • Measure for success — Define the metrics that can demonstrate communications effectiveness.  



Meanwhile, the study reports that brands have made grave errors in marketing worldwide, largely involving bad translations. Here are 10 historic brand governance missteps:

  1. Procter & Gamble featured an image of a stork delivering a baby when selling Papers diapers in Japan. Unfortunately, the tale of a stork delivering a baby isn’t part of Japanese folklore. 
  2. KFC tried to use its “finger licking good” line in China, but it was translated as “eat your fingers off.”
  3. Ford’s line, “Every car has a high-quality body” came out in Belgium as “Every car has a high-quality corpse.” 
  4. IKEA’s “full speed” line came out in the UK as “Fartfull.”  
  5. Mercedes-Benz used the brand name “Bensi” in the Chinese market. In Chinese, it means “rush to die.” 
  6. Procter & Gamble tried to introduce Vicks into the German market. But “Vicks” is pronounced with an F, turning Vicks into the German equivalent of the “F” word. 
  7. Electrolux came out with an ad campaign boasting, “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”  
  8. Pepsi’s slogan, “Pepsi brings you Back To Life,” came out in China as “Pepsi brings you back from the Grave.” 
  9. When Coca-Cola first entered the Chinese market, the translation meant something like “Bite a wax tad pole.” 
  10. HSBC spent millions on its “Assume Nothing” campaign. But in many countries, the message was “Do Nothing.”



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