This is yet another crappy Joke node

Chevy Nova Award


2003 May 07
I just got the following message from generic-man:
re Chevy Nova Award: many of these, including Chevy Nova, are urban legends. See their nodes here or write-ups on snopes.com

Still, doesn't mean they ain't funny. Even if they are false.

This node is now an example of don't believe everything you read on the internet.


These are the nominees for the Chevy Nova Award. This is given out in honor of the GM's fiasco in trying to market this car in Central and South America. "No va" means, of course, in Spanish, "it doesn't go".
  1. The Dairy Association's huge success with the campaign "Got Milk?" prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention the Spanish translation read "Are you lactating?"

  2. Coors put its slogan, "Turn It Loose," into Spanish, where it was read as "Suffer From Diarrhea."

  3. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."

  4. Clairol introduced the "Mist Stick," a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that "mist" is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the "Manure Stick."

  5. When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the smiling baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the labels of what's inside, since many people can't read.

  6. Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.

  7. An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope's visit. Instead of "I saw the Pope" (el Papa), the shirts read "I Saw the Potato" (la papa).

  8. Pepsi's "Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation" translated into "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave" in Chinese.

  9. The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as "Kekoukela", meaning "Bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax", depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent "kokou kole", translating into "happiness in the mouth."

  10. Frank Perdue's chicken slogan, "It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken" was translated into Spanish as "it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate."

  11. When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you." The company thought that the word "embarazar" (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant!"

  12. When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class seats in the Mexican market, it translated its "Fly In Leather" campaign literally, which meant "Fly Naked" (vuela en cuero) in Spanish!

Addendum: Message on 2004.03.30 at 22:23, from sekicho:
re Chevy Nova Award: American Airlines also once sent out a calendar to its Mexican stations that wanted to say "Happy New Year," but ended up actually saying "Happy Asshole."
Heh. Assholes.
The Mistubishi Pajero sold dismally in Spain, where "Pajero" is slang for 'masturbator.'

Toyota Fiera was contoversial in Puerto Rico, because 'fiera' translates to "ugly old woman."

Rolls-Royce tried selling their "Silver Mist" model, but few bought it. Probably because it comes out as "Silver Animal Droppings" in German.

The Pinto didn't sell too well either, i believe mostly in Brazil.Reason?
Pinto = slang for "small penis" in Portugese

You would think somebody in Marketing would catch on...

The Chevy Nova story is possibly apocryphal, despite the wide coverage of it and mention in plenty of books.

For more of these, I'd reccomend Brad Haig's Brand Failures: The Truth About the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Time

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