Urban Legends

Pepsi in China

The Legend

When Pepsi cola tried to expand their market into China, they had a terrible time. The product was good enough, but they just couldn't get their advertising slogans to work in the Chinese market. Something seemed to get lost in translation.

In the 1950s, Pepsi's slogan was "Be sociable." This was translated as, "Be intimate." Not exactly a great message considering China's political position in the '50s. Sales actually went down instead of up.

In the '60s, Pepsi's slogan was, "Now it's Pepsi for those who think young." That was translated as, "New Pepsi is for people with the minds of children." Sales fell even further.

Not knowing what else to do, Pepsi hurriedly changed its marketing once again, but the new "Come alive with Pepsi!" slogan became "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead." Noting the problem, Pepsi switched to "Come alive! You're in the Pepsi generation," but this was translated as "Resurrect! Your body will be made of Pepsi!"

At that point the company just plain gave up. They never did overcome the translation problem.

To this day, cola drink sales in China are dominated by a local brand, Bite the Wax Tadpole.

Behind the Legend

Pepsi isn't the only company that has had trouble marketing its wares in China in their attempt to do a people search to for their product. Consider these examples:



Chinese Translation

7up The uncola It's not soda

A&W Rootbeer

That frosty mug sensation

Feel like your face is frozen


I can't believe I ate the whole thing!

I don't know who ate my food!

American Express

Don't leave home without it

Stay home with it


Reach out and touch someone

Violate a stranger

Apple computers Think different Go insane


We try harder

We try to be hard

Budweiser For all you do, this Bud's for you All you get for your work is a beer


When you say Budweiser, you've said it all

After Budweiser, you will not be able to speak

Burger King

Have it your way

Reject the socialist ideal


Calgon, take me away

Use Calgon, be taken to prison


I'd walk a mile for a Camel

A camel asked me to walk two kilometers

Campbell's soup

Soup is good food

Soup is morally superior to your food

Campbell's soup

M'm M'm Good

Mumble soup

Carls Jr. If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face Why keep your tongue in your mouth?


The pause that refreshes

Stop and rejuvenate


It's the real thing

Pepsi is fake


Have a Coke and a smile

Drink Coke and eat lips

Coca-Cola Coke is it Coke is all you get


Things go better with Coke

The best Coke contains unspecified things

Coco Pops Cuckoo for Coco Pops If you eat Coco Pops, you are insane

Dr Pepper

Be a Pepper!

Live like soda!

E. F. Hutton When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen When E. F. Hutton talks, you are spied upon


It keeps going, and going, and going

This commercial will never end

FedEx When it absolutely has to get there overnight For when it can wait until tomorrow

Florida orange juice

A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine

Drink orange juice or go blind

Ford Quality is job one We were concerned about quality in a previous job
Fox news Fair and balanced Acceptable and not about to tip over

General Electric

We bring good things to life

We bring your ancestors back from the dead, too


The best tires in the world have Goodyear written all over them

Someone has been writing on your car

Intel Intel inside You have eaten Intel

Kentucky Fried Chicken

Finger-lickin' good

Tastes like human fingers

Lay's potato chips

Betcha can't eat just one

You can not even eat one


The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand

This chocolate goes to pieces in your head


Come to Marlboro Country

Leave China

Maxwell House coffee

Good to the last drop

Enjoyable until you fall over


Our repairmen are the loneliest guys in town

Nobody likes our repair workers


You deserve a break today

You deserve to be beaten


Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun

Two complete cow patties, common sauce, cabbage, fermented milk, cucumber, roots, on a steamed bun.


Billions and billions served

Tastes so good cats ask for it by name

Meow Mix cat food

Tastes so good cats ask for it by name

Billions and billions served

Memorex Is it live, or is it Memorex? If it's not alive, it is Memorex


Got milk?

Have you stolen a cow?


Just do it!

Have sex!

Paul Masson wines

We will sell no wine before its time

We do not sell wine before the store opens

Philip Morris

Call for Philip Morris!

Shout for cigarettes!

Raid Kills bugs dead Eliminates government listening devices
Rice Krispies Snap, crackle, and pop Break, crush, and explode


How do you spell relief? R-O-L-A-I-D-S

How does an American calligraphist draw relief? R-O-L-A-I-D-S

Sara Lee

Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee

Sara Lee is a woman of easy virtue


Obey Your Thirst

You are commanded to drink

Taco Bell

Head for the border


Timex It takes a licking and keeps on ticking Lick it like it is a bomb
Toni Which twin has the Toni? Who stole the Toni?

United Negro College Fund

A mind is a terrible thing to waste

We waste our advertising money looking for negros in China

Virginia Slims

You've come a long way, baby

Your baby has wandered away

Visa It's everywhere you want to be It's only in places you can't go
Volvo Fahrvergnügen ????


Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of Mao

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