#4. The IKEA Fartfull
IKEA is famous for slapping unintelligible names on unassembleable furniture. Every so often, one of these names smashes headfirst against the language barrier, causing IKEA's English-speaking consumers to titter like schoolgirls. We're looking at you, Lessebo loveseat.
Tee hee! Also, "titter."
But our favorite terribly-named, ergonomically bankrupt IKEA contraption has to be the Fartfull kids' workbench. In 2005, this half-desk, half-mystery hit stores, tantalizing hipster parents with visions of a more productive (if perpetually gassy) child.
Is it table? A rickshaw? An ice cream cart?
Although "Fartfull" merely meant "speedy" in Swedish, IKEA eventually pulled the doohickey from their website. Between its name and design, we wouldn't be surprised if more than one child mistook it for a portable toilet. Hell, maybe that's what it is.
#3. The Reebok Incubus
Reebok introduced this women's running shoe in 1995, a time when naming your sneaker was as important to marketing as curing cancer is to science. What this shoe ultimately proved was that Reebok's ad team consisted entirely of a random word generator and a macaw who only knew the word "yes."
If you're confused, an incubus is an evil spirit that, in medieval times, would descend upon women and have sex with them. That's right, Reebok was marketing rape shoes.
This is a Google Image Result for Incubus, and Reebok (wisely) tried to distill its essence into a shoe.
Fortunately for Reebok, the public at large wasn't up to speed on demons with a penchant for non-consensual sex, and the error went unnoticed for about a year until ABC News caught on. In the end, Reebok shipped out a bunch of labels to cover over the name on approximately 53,000 shoeboxes.
Reebok made an about face in its marketing strategy not long after, instead focusing on the hip-hop lifestyle which has never been known to demean women in any way.
Just ask Reebok spokesman Nelly, seen here in a rare moment of not telling women to take off all their clothes.
#2. Wack Off! Insect Repellent
Army surplus stores are magical places where you can find World War II side arms and the mummified thumbs of dead terrorists. In Australia, amongst the boomerangs and Paul Hogan-endorsed machetes, you can also find the fabled Wack Off! bug lotion.
The Wack Off! brand raises some curious implications. First, the product's name is an imperative - it commands the consumer to drop whatever he's doing to repel mosquitoes... or pleasure himself.
"Don't mind if I do!"
Also, the product proudly boasts "AS USED BY THE ARMED FORCES." To take this encomium at face value is to assume that the Australian military exclusively recruits chronic masturbators. Which, to be fair, would be a hilariously disturbing form of psychological warfare. What would YOU do against a platoon of angry Aussies, dicks a-wagging?
"Remember: Follow my stroke until you see the whites of their eyes."
#1. Nintendo DS Touch Dic
Alright, so here is a case where it probably was a "lost in translation" issue to a degree. But the result made the Unintentional Comedy Hall of Fame.
The year is 1995, and Nintendo has set the gaming world on fire with their new DS system, built entirely around its touch screen. So you're a Korean company, wanting to make a piece of dictionary software that takes advantage of the touch screen capabilities. Touch... Dictionary... just need to shorten it up, to make it snappier, something cool that the kids will remember.
Oh, how many English speakers ordered copies of this game, oh how many hugely, hugely disappointed men saw their erection wilt under screen after screen displaying nothing but Korean words. Oh, how many had an awkward conversation as they tried to return their copies to the store, unable to make eye contact as they explained that they, uh, didn't need to learn Korean after all.
We can sympathize, guys. Thanks to mistranslations, every trip of ours abroad has ended in numerous embarrassing situations...
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