It is very common to encounter poor translations that are incorrect, as well as straight, literal or academic translations of ads from English into Spanish, where the words might be correct but the meaning is not.

Even though language is the common cultural bond among Latinos, there are many words that have different connotations or multiple meanings in various Spanish-speaking countries. Here are some perfect examples to illustrate this common problem.

Example 1: Fly Naked!
Braniff Airlines tried to lure Hispanic passengers in the US with the phrase “Sentado en Cuero.” The English message intended to emphasize the comfort of leather seats. However, the poor translation made reference to “sitting naked.” Needless to say, the ad was a failure.

Example 2: Use Pens as contraceptives!
The Parker Pen Company was trying to introduce its fountain pens in some parts of Latin America. The message used on the US campaign was: “Avoid embarrassment, use Parker Pens.” Unfortunately, it was translated into Spanish as: “Avoid pregnancy use Parker Pens.” Not only did Parker lose sales, but ended up being embarrassed as well.