Cross-Cultural Advertising

A disappointed cola salesman returns from his assignment in Israel.

A friend asked, “Why weren’t you successful with the Israelis?”

The salesman explained, “When I got posted in the Middle East, I was very confident that I would make a good sales pitch in rural areas. But I had a problem. I didn’t know how to speak Hebrew. So, I planned to convey the message through three posters:
—First poster – a man lying in the hot desert sand…totally exhausted and fainting.
—Second poster – the man is drinking our Cola.

—Third poster- our man is now totally refreshed.

Then these posters were pasted all over the place

“That should have worked,” said the friend.

The salesman replied.

“What I didn’t realize was that the Israelis read from right to left”

Courtesy of Lonnie ‘Michael’ Wall of Seattle, WA

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And did you hear the one about Chevy’s popular car, the Nova?

Sales did so well in the U.S., they decided to market it in Mexico. Management was devastated and perplexed when they did not sell even one car.

Didn’t they realize? In Spanish ‘no va’ means it doesn’t run.

Then there were the very popular Betty Crocker cake mixes.

They tested the product in Japan. Wherever they went, they gave samples of the finished product to the Japanese to taste test. The Japanese people were enthusiastic about the taste.

When the cake mixes were delivered to the stores – not a one sold.


Japanese kitchens did not have ovens!

(These last two tales are true. They are classic marketing blunders from ‘60s and ‘70s)