IKEA ‘Cuddle Rape’ Translation: The PR Dangers of Social Media and Free Translation Tools

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It’s funny translations time! Swedish flat-pack giant IKEA has again been in the news over a translation that has left them a little bit red-faced. Who would think a pillow could bring such PR?

The latest in a long line of translation bloopers from IKEA this time sees a customer put the name of the £35 pillow Gosa Raps into Google Translate. What was the translation?

> Cuddle Rape!

Unfortunately for IKEA, the translation of Raps, the Swedish word for rapeseed, was cut in half by the online translation software creating a rather unfortunate combination.

So it’s not IKEA’s fault. When it went wrong was when the customer posted their findings on Reddit! And from there social media grabbed it. And from there the media latched onto the story.

Cuddle Raps IKEA Translation

Although Cuddle Rape was the result of a mistake and thus not technically “lost in translation”, this is not the first time IKEA has found itself in trouble over the uses of names for their products.

Hanger Bumerang, knife Slitbar, and pot Skanka have all brought chuckles and smiles. However, other products might sell significantly less if they were to be translated into English.

Pillowcase Skarblad named after a flower translates into English as ‘cut blade’.

Spatula Gubbrora, a name that makes perfect sense to Swedes, translates into English as ‘old man touch’.

Did you know there are more IKEA catalogues than bibles printed each year? It’s no wonder they receive as much attention as they do over this kind of names. Last year the company hired translators before printing their catalogue in Thai after it was discovered that some items had a whole different meaning in parts of South-East Asia. Their bed Redalen was found to sound too close to the word for ‘third base’ when pronounced in Thai, and plant pot Jattebra, a word which ironically means ‘really good’ in Swedish, sounds like a slang word for sex.

Earlier in the year we also covered on our blog the backlash over Ikea’s catalogue in Saudi Arabia.

Getting brand and product names wrong when taking them abroad can have negative outcomes. Check out this little video we put together – our top 10 international marketing blunders.

So what are the lessons we can learn from this story?

Always get your brand names, product names, and service names either translated or checked. Our brand and product name translation or translation services can always help. From a PR perspective, especially if the story is making the rounds in social media, make sure you jump into the social media space and correct the situation. In this instance, many Swedish people went back to the customer explaining that it was an error.

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