‘Boil just what you need’: it’s with this slogan, printed large on one side of the box, that Philips try to lure us into buying their electric kettle. It is an appeal to our green better selves, the smaller print underneath suggests: ‘Save up to 66% energy.’
The other three sides carry the same message in other languages. Or do they? The German translation says, ‘Only boil the water that you need.’ The Dutch version tells us, ’Boil exactly the right amount.’ But the Russian translator has opted for the somewhat surprising ‘Just what you were looking for.’
Incompetence? Perhaps, but not necessarily. He or she may have made a culturally sensitive and commercially sound choice, suspecting that few Russian consumers have green better selves.