Scratch any good speechwriter or marketing communicator you’re likely find somebody who has a great collection of speeches or brands that went sadly – but hilariously – wrong. This space will collect and publish a new group of these confounded communications with fair regularity, so please send your favorites to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A good place to start is the famous case when Chevrolet tried to market the Chevy Nova in Mexico, (In Spanish, “no va” means “It doesn’t go.”)
Then there was the sex expert invited to talk about her expertise to a large convocation of medical professionals. Unfortunately, she was introduced by the master of ceremonies at such length that just about all the time for her remarks had been used up. Finally, she was ceremoniously introduced with the phrase: “Now we are privileged to hear an expert view of human sexuality.” At which point the speaker walked to the podium, looked out at the audience, said “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s a great pleasure.” And sat down.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale faced a not dissimilar challenge when he was introduced by an especially long-winded and flowery introducer. When he finally took the podium Mondale said, “Thank you for those kind words. Of all the introductions I’ve received in my life that, certainly, is the most recent.”
Several decades ago a US Senator, (who will remain nameless) never quite understood the way his press office worked hand-in-hand with his speechwriter. Whenever he was to speak somewhere his staff would provide him both with the speech text and with the press release they would pass out at the conclusion of his remarks. On one such occasion the Senator inadvertently, but without noting his mistake, began to read from the press release rather than from the speech text. So his rendition was filled with remarks such as “The Senator went on to say …” He finished by saying “The Senator’s remarks were interrupted several times by applause.”