Saturday, 11 February 2012

What are the worst branding gaffes?

You are going to 
  • discuss gaffes, advertising and translating
  • listen to a radio interview and do a true / false quiz
  • practise the passive
  • give advice about how to avoid making gaffes when speaking another language or visiting another country

  • What's a gaffe?

gaffe  /gaf/  Noun: An accidental act or remark causing embarrassment to its maker; a blunder: "an unforgivable social gaffe".
Synonyms: faux pas - blunder - mistake

  • Have you ever made any gaffes? Describe one
  • Do you ever make any gaffes when you are speaking in a foreign laguage?
  • Do you know of any translations from your language into English which may cause a gaffe?
  • Do you know of any translations from English into your language which may cause a gaffe?
  • Why should we be very careful when we translate into another language?
  • What are "false friends"
  • What's an advertising or branding gaffe?
  • Can you give any examples of advertising or branding gaffes?

Listen to a radio interview from BBC Radio 4 Today.  The interview is about branding gaffes.

The carmaker BMW launched a Mini Cooper marketing campaign in Germany to try to take advantage of the cold weather.  Unfortunately the Mini Cooper's name was attached to a cold weather front which killed many across Europe. BMW is embarrassed and a spokesman said that "it took on catastrophic proportions and left so many victims... we do regret it very much."

In this interview Allyson Stewart-Allen, a marketing expert who runs International Marketing Partners, explains how to avoid a branding mistake.

Listen to the interview
What other examples of branding gaffes do they give?

What are the worst branding gaffes? (mp3)

Listen again and do the exercise below

Grammar - Passive
What's the difference between these sentences?
  • They translated the text into Chinese
  • The text was translated into Chinese
Which one uses the passive?
When do we use the passive?

Not sure how to use the passive? Look here
or here

Try this exercise to practise the passive using phrases from the interview.

Printable version here

More practice

Other activities
Things that happen on the internet every 60 seconds
Making Potato chips

More funny gaffes

Writing / Discussion
What advice would you give to an English speaking person who was learning your language or coming to visit your country?
How could he / she avoid making any gaffes?

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