FRANK PERDUCE KNOWS A LOT about chickens, so you can believe him when he says, "It takes a sexually excited man to make a chick affectionate."
He doesn't really mean it -- not that way, at least. His ad agency got sloppy when it translated his slogan -- "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken" -- into Spanish. "I guess someone thought they could translate it exactly," says Bert Valencia, an assistant professor of marketing at Texas Tech University. "They forgot about the double entendres and slang." Such is the travail of many companies turning their attention to one of the nation's fastest-growing markets: 20 million Hispanic-Americans.
Many of the mistakes come about because marketers are "using somebody who learned Spanish in high school to do their translating," Valencia says. Breweries seem to have the worst problems. Budweiser became "the queen of beers," while another brewery boasted that it sold "the beer that would make you more drunk." One light beer boasted of being "Filling. Less delicious."
Double meanings take their toll. One food company advertised a huge burrito as a burrada. Colloquially, it means "a big mistake."
Then again, maybe the company should be commended for truth-in-advertising.