Splash! (or: Marketing Pitfalls in a Cross-Cultural World)

9 December 2019 – There are many tales told, in the marketing world, of brand names & slogans that work just fine in the home market, but self-sabotage elsewhere:

  • the Chevy Nova — all shiny-new in English, but in Spanish (no va) a warning that the car won’t go
  • the Alliance for Progress — intended to boost economic cooperation between the USA and Latin America, but in Spanish (Alianza para el Progreso) a prediction that the Alliance will put the brakes on progress
  • Diversified Action Group, or DAG in snappy short-form — a safely bland title for its collection of miscellaneous small acquisitions, thought the global ad agency, until its Australian partners managed to stop laughing long enough to explain what “dag” means in the sheep-shearing world

Which — speaking of Australia — brings us to Yellow Tail wines, and their campaign to “add a splash of yellow.”

On billboards everywhere.

Well, on downtown Vancouver bus shelters, at any rate.


Here in Canada, there is only one possible explanation for a splash of yellow on the snow.


Dog pee.

Or cougar, or lynx, or bear, or wolf, or coyote, or even human.  But whatever the source, it’s still pee.

Dog Pee Wine! Right up there with the Chevy that doesn’t go.

Leave a comment


  1. Knowing Australians, as I do, the inference was deliberate.

    • My account was brief, so I didn’t make clear that the ad agency was a big trans-national and based either London or NYC, certainly didn’t know Aussie slang. They’d just been on an acquisitions spree, and were announcing the resulting re-org via a global phone call (pre-Skype!) – rolled out the DAG title for the entirely unimportant small bits left over from the rest of the re-org, and then had to listen to roars of laughter from their reps in Australia…

  2. Hahaha! 🙂 Love this one! And to say nothing of the fact that BC makes its own “house” wine, most of which is better than Yellow Tail. I once knew someone who saw this name as having sexual connotations, as well. 😉


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