Listening task 1: What’s in a name?

A Listen. These American companies used to have different names. Match the original company names with their logos. (There are four extra names.)

a   Baked Foods

 Bank Americard

c   Canning International

 Citibank North America

 Consolidated Foods Corporation

f   Minnesota Valley Canning Company

g   Mobil

 Standard Oil

Answer & Audioscripts

1 b   2 e   3 h   4 f

Audioscripts in B below

B Listen again. Why did the companies change their names? Circle the correct answers.

1  The company wanted to

    a. offer passport services

    b. become international.

2  The company

    a. began making baked goods.

    b. wanted a well-known name.

3  The company wanted a name that was

    a. original and different.

    b. similar to its original name.

4  The company was named for

    a. a type of vegetable.

    b. the King of England.

Answer & Audioscripts

1 b   2 b   3 a   4 a



Woman:   Today, VISA is one of the biggest international credit card companies. But VISA started out with a different name. When the company decided to change its image and grow internationally, it changed its original name, Bank Americard, to VISA. The company wanted to sound more international, so it dropped the reference to “America” and the word bank. The work visa also gave the image of a passport to many places, so it fit the international image the company wanted.


Man:   This company is well known to Americans as a brand of baked goods – pies, cookies, and cakes. The company used to be called Consolidated Foods Corporation. When Consolidated Foods decided to change its name, it chose the name of its most popular line of products: Sara Lee. Many Americans already recognized the name Sara Lee, so the company thought the new name would help make it well known. Sara Lee, by the way, was the daughter of the man who started the original bakery company in nineteen fifty-one.


Woman:   An example of a company with an original name is ExxonMobil. Actually, this international oil company has had several names over the years. When John Rockefeller started the company in eighteen seventy, he gave it its original name: Standard Oil. Then Standard Oil changed its name to Esso in nineteen twenty-six. When Esso became an international company, it wanted a name that was different and that had no negative meanings in other languages. The company finally decided on Exxon. It invented an original word for the name of the company. That way the company could be sure the name was different. Finally, the company joined with the Mobil Gas Corporation and changed its name to ExxonMobil.


Man:   In the nineteen twenties, this company started importing a new type of green pea from England to the U.S. These peas were larger than the typical green peas Americans were used to eating. Because the peas were so large, the company called the canned peas “green giant” and developed a new logo for the cans: a tall, green man dressed in green leaves. Soon the green giant symbol became so famous that the company decided to change its name from the Minnesota Valley Canning Company to Green Giant. Today the symbol is known as the Jolly Green Giant.

Listening task 2: Lost in translation

A Listen. People are talking about problems advertising companies have had in different parts of the world. Write the product and the place for each problem.



1  __soft drink____


2  _____________


3  _____________


4  _____________


Answer & Audioscripts

1 soft drink, China

2 laundry soap, the Middle East

3 a shirt, Mexico

4 gas, Japan

Audioscripts in B below

B Listen again. What were the problems? Complete the sentences.

1   The slogan was “__Come alive!___”

      It was translated as “Bring ancestors ______________.”

2   Languages are written ______________.

     People thought the product would make clothes ______________.

3   The first word should have been “______________.”

     The slogan was translated as “______________ I wore this shirt, I felt good.”

4   The company was unsuccessful because of its ______________.

      It means “______________” in Japanese.

Answer & Audioscripts

1 Come alive!; back from the dead

2 from right to left; dirty

3 When; Until

4 name; engine stop



Husband:   This is funny.

Wife:   What’s that?

Husband:   I’m reading this article about bad ads – you know, advertising mistakes that different companies have made.

Wife:   Yeah?

Husband:   Remember that old slogan from that soft drink company? The ads used to say “Come alive!”

Wife:   Oh, yeah. The ads showed all these young, active people with lots of energy.

Husband:   Right. Well, when the company sold its products in China, that slogan actually had a bad meaning.

Wife:   What did it mean?

Husband:   It was translated as “Bring ancestors back from the dead!”

Wife:   You’re kidding. I guess they didn’t sell many of their products.

Husband:   Not with that slogan.


Husband:   Here’s an interesting one. You know those ads for laundry soap with the clean and dirty clothes?

Wife:   Sure. They show a pile of dirty clothes on one side, the laundry soap in the middle, and the same clothes on the other side after they’ve been washed and folded.

Husband:   Well, an American company had one of those ads. It was really successful in North America, but it was a big mistake in the Middle East.

Wife:   Why? What was the problem?

Husband:   The ad showed the dirty clothes on the left and the clean clothes on the right with the box of laundry soap in the middle. The message they wanted the ads to give was “This product gets dirty clothes really clean.”

Wife:   Yeah. That’s what I think when I see those ads.

Husband:   Well, in the Middle East, languages are written from right to left, not from left to right. So, the problem was, people in the Middle East looked at the ad, and they thought that the soap made the clean clothes dirty! They should have put the dirty clothes on the right and the clean clothes on the left in the ad.

Wife:   “Our laundry soap will make your clothes dirty.” Not a very smart advertisement.


Husband:   Oh, listen to this one. Here’s an example where just one word made a big difference.

Wife:   What’s that?

Husband:   An American clothing company put an ad for their shirts in a Mexican magazine. The ad was in Spanish, and it was supposed to say, “When I wore this shirt, I felt good.” But the company made a translation mistake.

Wife:   What did it say?

Husband:   The Spanish speakers read the ad in the magazine, and instead of reading, “When I wore this shirt,” they read “Until I wore this shirt, I felt good.”

Wife:   Huh. “When I wore this shirt” changed to “Until I wore this shirt.” Wow. That one little word gave it the opposite meaning.


Wife:   You know, sometimes just the name of a company can be enough to scare off customers.

Husband:   What do you mean?

Wife:   Well, I heard about a company that tried to sell gas in Japan. It was unsuccessful there because of its name.

Husband:   Really?

Wife:   Yeah. It was a large, American company with a chain of gas stations. It was called Enco – E-N-C-O. They opened a few in Japan and advertised using their American name. Unfortunately they didn’t know what Enco means in Japanese. Big mistake.

Husband:   Why? What does it mean?

Wife:   Enco is a short way of saying “engine stop” in Japanese.

Husband:   Hmm. I guess I wouldn’t buy gas for my car there either.

Listening task 3

Listen. Circle the correct answers.

1  Slogans are used by

    a. most snack food companies.

    b. large corporations.

    c. many types of companies.

2  Slogans are effective because people

    a. remember the brand.

    b. believe the brand is good.

    c. will pay more for the brand.

3  Experts say a slogan should be

    a. serious.

    b. funny.

    c. simple.

4  A good slogan makes people feel

    a. one hundred percent satisfied.

    b. good about the brand.

    c. strong emotions.

5  A telephone company slogan says “Reach out and …”

    a. touch someone.

    b. call someone.

    c. be someone.

Answer & Audioscripts


Woman:   Slogans are used by all kinds of companies, from banks offering credit cards, to large corporations selling snack foods and sportswear. Slogans can be very effective because they can help people remember a product, brand or company name for a long time. How do companies choose a slogan to represent their products? Advertising experts have studied what makes certain slogans more effective than others. They say a company’s slogan should be original, simple, and easy to remember, and should make people feel positive about the brand. Some examples are the telephone company that encourages customers to “Reach out and touch someone,” or the credit card company slogan that reminds people, “Don’t leave home without it.” These slogans are recognized by millions of people, and so are the companies who use them in their ads.

Listening task 4

A Listen. People are talking about advertisements. Number the products from 1 to 5. (There is one extra product.)

___ cars

___ clothing

___ credit cards

___ electronics

___ food

___ sporting goods

Answer & Audioscripts

1 sporting goods   2 clothing

3 cars   4 food   5 electronics

Audioscripts in B below

B Listen again. What things do the companies use in their ads? Check (✓) the correct answers.


beautiful people



songs or slogans

strong emotions






Answer & Audioscripts

1 celebrities   2 beautiful people

3 humor   4 songs or slogans

5 strong emotions



Man:   Oh, this is the tennis racket I want. It’s the one all the pros use.

Woman:   Really?

Man:   Yeah. The ads always show famous tennis players making amazing shots. I’ll definitely improve my game with one of these.


Woman:   Look at that billboard. Don’t you love that dress?

Man:   Well, the model wearing the dress is really pretty, but I don’t think the dress is anything special.

Woman:   Hmm. I guess you’re right. Now that I look more closely, the dress is kind of pain.


Man:   Oh, this ad is funny. Watch what happens to the guy’s car! [car crashes]

Woman:   That is a pretty funny ad.

Man:   I know. I guess the message is that those cars are very safe, even if they crash.


Woman:   OK, we need some bread.

Man:   Let’s try Bonanza Bread! You know, the ads always say “Bonanza Bread – for you, for your family, for life.”

Woman:   Well, the price looks like it’s for rich people. Let’s get the brand we usually buy.


Man:   Look at this cell phone ad. The parents are waiting for their teenaged daughter to come home. The girl’s car has broken down, and her cell phone isn’t working. The parents can’t sleep because they’re so worried.

Woman:   Gee. This ad is upsetting.

Man:   I know. It always makes me feel so nervous.

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