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From the Oops! files: Coca-Cola campaign gone way, way bad

Oops Word on Big Red Button Correct Mistake

Localization anybody?

Canada has two official languages as most of you know, English and French. Coca-Cola thought they were being a good corporate citizen for Canadians by implementing a campaign whereby under each cap of their Vitaminwater product, they would randomly print an English word and a French word.

This would work well if say the random words were “blue” and “chien” (or “dog). However, one guy opened his bottle to find the words “you” in English; and in French, the word for “late” or, “retard”. As in, my friend was going to go shopping but was “en retard” or “late”.

“You Retard” is just plain offensive.

Another customer found the French water for shower under his bottle cap: douche.

Shannon Denny, director of brand communications with Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada, said consumers were supposed to collect the caps to combine words into humorous sentences.

Anglophones would use the English words and francophones would use the French ones, she explained.

“Some words that were on the list, such as the one we were contacted about, have a completely innocuous meaning in French and are used regularly within French conversations,” Denny said.

For more on this story, see here: Globe and Mail.

More stories about marketing.

Photo credit: iQoncept – Fotolia.com

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Comments are off for this post.

  • With these huge companies having extensive research and marketing departments, you would thinks that mistakes like this would never happen.

  • William Leak

    Me think’s that’s what you call a “scalable PR problem”. Now put the genie back in the coke bottle.

  • dude

    Hahahah Rofl lolz “You Retard”

  • bud

    Randomness is a funny thing