Thursday, August 15, 2013

Package design fiasco/Un emballage raté

During a recent visit to the local Home Depot, I found an orange tube with some material in it. The label said: Traffic T-Shirt.  The French caption said Chemise de circulation. Intrigued, I read further and realized that the item had nothing to do with traffic (flow of vehicles), as the French wording stated. 

A visit to the Home Depot website provided the following picture and copy:
Workhorse high-visibility traffic safety shirt acts as way of prevention and protection against accidents and injuries while working on the road. Its durable and breathable material has been engineered to wick moisture from the inside of the fabric. Certified to CSA Z96 class 2, level 2.
  • Two tone reflective Stripes
  • Breathable and durable
  • 100% high-visibility polyester
  • Machine washable
  • Meets CSA Z96 

  • Chemise de circulation W/ Stripes,Taille L

    The French copy is totally different from the English copy.  Chandails de signalisation orange à haute visibilité. 100% polyester, matériel (mailles) qui garde au sec. Ruban réflechissant argenté avec ruban jaune. Ne retient pas la transpiration.Certifié à la norme CSA Z96 de classe 2, niveau 2
    • Bandes Réfléchissantes
    • Confortable et durable
    • 100% Polyester haute-visibilité
    • Lavable à la machine

  • I decided to check the CSA site to discover that the certification applies to high visibility safety apparel used in the construction industry, not traffic at all. 

    The English text is emphasizing the traffic safety aspect  but does not describe the colour or shape of the stripes. The French, on the other hand, provides a much more technical description but states that this clothing is for signaling purposes. No mention of road traffic.

    Two questions: 1) who created this copy and what were they trying to do?  2) who checked the French to ensure that  the original English description was translated properly? 

    Finally, I did a global Google search for this type of clothing and found many items resembling it. The description?  Gilet réflecteur de sécurité routière i.e. Road Safety Reflective Vest. 

    One wonders how the potential purchaser reacts to this? I certainly was confused and annoyed by the sloppy copywriting and translation. Home Depot, are you listening?