The Gallery of Wrongness – Page 5 (Farmogal & Studio Lavia)

Farmogal Cosmetics & Studio Lavia Editoria e Comunicazione Report Card: D ⁞ “For Game” is PR firm Studio Lavia’s brand-new publicity campaign for the Farmogal cosmetics company. Evidently, however, no one at Studio Lavia understands that “For Game” means precisely nothing in English. Just as clearly, they neglected to mention that fact to their client, which I can only imagine has paid quite a lot to have these confusing billboards placed on Italian sidewalks (this specimen comes from Padova, which is also the home of Studio Lavia).

FOR GAME? For shame.

For the linguistic detective, it’s an interesting challenge to try to figure out what they thought they were saying. “Per gioco” exists in Italian; if that was the phrase, it ought to have been translated as “For Fun” or “Just for Fun” or something along those lines. But perhaps they were trying to say “Are You Game?” (though there’s no question mark).

The Italian doesn’t help much:


Studio Lavia's Farmogal page

Though this description is written in nearly incomprehensible “publicity-speak,” one gets the sense that they’re ATTEMPTING to communicate the notion that Farmogal invites women to use its cosmetics to play with their appearance, to make a game of the way they present themselves to the world. If that’s the case, what Studio Lavia meant to say was “Ready to Play?” or “Get into the Game!” or “It’s Only a Game” or even “Get Your Game Face On!”

The meaninglessness of “For Game,” however, is worthy of Engrish.com, which I heartily recommend. Among other things, Engrish.com provides ample testimony of the growing use of English (largely in Asian countries) not for its meaning, but as a kind of graphic element whose sole purpose is to make a product “cool.”

We’ve all seen the Chinese T-shirts with slogans like: “Happy Boy Extra Limb!!” Perhaps that’s what they were after at Studio Lavia. (And perhaps I should open a new site called Italish.com.) In other words, meaning is an unnecessary detail. The important thing is to slap some words in English onto the sign.

There’s a lot of this sort of thing going around in Italy, though. The Italian-based watch manufacturer, Cronotech, uses the equally nonsensical slogan “Shock Your Time,” and the mobile-phone operator Vodafone exhorts its customers that “Life is NOW.” (Arguably, Vodafone’s slogan at least sounds like English, though it’s certainly no less vapid than “Shock Your Time.”)

The SEAT auto company (which, to be fair, is Spanish, though they advertise their Ibiza, Leon, and Altea cars widely in Italy) is currently running a spot on Italian TV whose slogan was evidently written by a first-year student of English: “I Sound Me.”

"I Sound Me" by SEAT: This Slogan Gibberishes Me!

Sanpellegrino’s soft drink Chinò, meanwhile, is the sponsor of a promotion entitled “Gioca fuori dal coro” — in other words, “step out of the crowd,” “play your own kind of music,” pull away from the pack,” or words to that effect. The Italian site, however, informs visitors that Chinò is the “Sponsor Ufficiale di Play-Out.” Yeah so … “gioca” means “play” and “fuori” is “out.” But otherwise … huh?

Sanpellegrino's "Gioca fuori dal coro"

Would it have been so difficult for Studio Lavia to consult with a native-English-speaking translator regarding its Farmogal slogan before plastering it all over fancy billboards? (Or SEAT? Or San Sanpellegrino? Or Cronotech?) My bet is that it would have taken about five minutes to come up with something better.

Studio Lavia assures its would-be clients that it provides “a single contact point that allows you to resolve the vast majority of your communication problems, saving time and money in the process.”

Right. Except for those communication problems that come from not knowing how to write advertising slogans in English.

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