International Marketing: 10 Overseas Business Failures

Have you just launched global marketing for your business? This article for you. What are the steps of the global marketing strategy and above all, what mistakes should be avoided?

If you have taken a marketing course in the past, you need to know that starting a marketing strategy is done methodically by following different steps.

The “international” aspect implies adaptation to new technologies that have emerged in the last century and new consumer behavior that is constantly changing.

As an example; Tag Heuer watches, Rolex watches, Ferrari cars, LV bags, etc. are popular brands in the global market but they cannot be completely error-free.

Equipped with all your marketing tools, implementing a well-structured strategy will allow you to follow the evolution of your audience’s behavior and to optimize your presence in other countries. But you must realize that language and cultural differences can mess up all your plans.

Want to sell your products abroad?

Building your own or selling your product abroad is a complicated operation for any company. In terms of international marketing, there are many pitfalls and even the biggest brands have failed to roast outside their home countries, especially in certain countries.

Here are just 10 examples of not following the internationalization of your own business.


Schweppes has experienced some disappointment in trying to export “Indian Tonic” in Italy: during the promotional campaign, the product name was accidentally translated by “Eau de toilette Schweppes”.


The Puma shoe brand was certainly full of good intentions when deciding to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the birth of the United Arab Emirates by releasing a special pair of shoes. Only here, the Emirates have a perception of shoes that is very different from our shoes: for them, it’s a symbol of dirt and impurity. Because of their anger when they see their flag associated with this object.

Perdue Farms

Perdue Farms is an American poultry company, which launched a well-known advertising campaign in the 1970s with the slogan “It takes strong people to make soft chickens.” But there is something interesting … When brands want to take root in Spain, the slogan has a meaning that’s a little different: “It takes a person who is eager to make a chicken full of love.”


UPS shipping companies made a few mistakes by being international in Europe. First in Germany, where the brown uniforms of the shipping officers were considered bad because they pulled back the “brown shirt”, an organization associated with the Nazi regime; But also in Spain, where delivery vehicles (chestnuts as well) are very similar to Spanish hearses.


The Nivea cosmetics company has ruined its image with an advertisement whose slogan literally means “White is purity”. Posted by the brand on Facebook to fans in the Middle East, the post was quickly removed in response to a reaction from users, which pointed to the racist connotations of advertising.


Clairol tried to introduce his “Mist Stick” (hair curler) in Germany a few years ago. The company clearly did not know that in Germany, fog is the word slang which means “filth”…


One of Ikea’s originalities is that brand furniture all has Swedish names that cannot be understood (and cannot be spoken) for most of us. But this strategy is detrimental to the company when it was established in Thailand: in this country, the names of the products are not as meaningful as elsewhere.

So, it turns out that words like Redalen or Jättebra look like Thai expressions with strong sexual connotations.


Another mistaken translation, Pepsi decided to reuse the slogan “Come live with the Pepsi generation” in Taiwan. Problem: This one has been interpreted as “Pepsi will raise your ancestor”.


Hallmark greeting cards are very popular in Anglo-Saxon countries: their main feature is that they contain messages or small poems. But this is not the taste of the French public, who do not appreciate being unable to adjust the cards. Result: Hallmark’s establishment in the country failed miserably.


Parker pen maker also paid a rough price when it launched a promotional campaign in Mexico, whose message should be, roughly speaking: “It won’t leak in your pocket and you won’t be embarrassed”. But that’s what Mexican consumers can read when they see an ad: “It won’t leak into your pocket and won’t make you pregnant.”

From the examples above we can conclude that no matter how much experience a company has, they can disrupt the plans that have been made if they are not aware of cultural differences and customs in the countries they will deal with.

Hopefully, this article provides a new understanding for you and for anyone who wants to go global. Thank you for your attention.