Swedish Ad Agency Accidentally Prints 'White Power' on Item
A Swedish advertising company is dealing with an embarrassing "lost in translation" situation after it sold a power bank that said "white power" as part of a promotion for a handball team.
The item, for Sweden's Ystads IF handball team, featured the hashtag "#vitahjärtat," which means "the white heart." So, coupled with the phrase and the nature of the power bank, "white power" would seem like it would make sense, especially to those whose first language isn't English. It's just a very, very unfortunate mistake.
The local paper, Ystads Allehanda, pointed out Anderzson of Sweden's mistake, and the ad agency acknowledged its blunder.
"When we developed the power bank, we had the club logo and #vitahjärtat, but we wanted to clarify that the product was a charger for mobile devices," Jonas Andersson, managing director for Anderzson of Sweden, told The Local. "From a Swedish and Ystad point of view, there has never been any talk of a connection to the foreign moment which someone compared it with. It is a supporter gadget to charge your mobile phone, quite simply."
The company removed the offensive phrase, and returned the product to the line with similar products in the Ystads IF supporter shop.
"We can only regret that this became such a big misunderstanding," Andersson added. "It is important to emphasize that neither Ystads IF nor Anderzson of Sweden AB have or have had any racist views. We have never even been linked to that. The opposite: We have helped with integration and donated a lot of clothing to help people in different forums. For us, all people are equally valuable."
According to The Local, this isn't the first time Swedish advertisers have missed out on the double meaning of certain English phrases. In 2015, the Swedish women's national soccer team accidentally referred to the spread of STDs when they used the hashtag #clapforsweden during the World Cup.
So, for distributors and merchandisers looking to create products using foreign languages, make sure there aren't any colloquialisms or euphemisms that you're missing. It could be a costly mistake.