Language lessons across the UK & Ireland

Call us! 0203 650 19 50 / +353 (0) 1 440 3978

Wait, What? Badly Dubbed Adverts Driving the World Crazy

Whether you're a Reddit regular or a sofa soapboxer, the plight of the viewer watching badly dubbed TV adverts is well-versed, widely known, and well... so very British, perhaps?

This may or may not come as news to you, but the odd creature that is the Brit, both abroad, and in its native habitat, likes to complain. Not, we hasten to add, to complain officially, so that any problem can actually be resolved. No, the Brit likes to lament the corruption of society, muse on the denigration of The English Language(tm), and wonder what is happening with the world with its nearest and dearest, those at the bus stop (but never on the Tube... do not make eye contact...) and potentially over the shared fence between their gardens whilst wondering how to politely get away.

How very quaint.

Now, a true Brit will also take any problem from around the world, and craft and mould it, until it is a very British problem. Exhibit A: The Badly Dubbed TV Advert (because naturally, such atrocities never occur elsewhere in the world, and no other language than The Queen's English is thus polluted...).

Here are some of those adverts that have got British Tweeters twittering and Redditors raging, all in the name of an ad.

Get your motor running... other words, let's start with two examples of bad dubbing with some cars (thank you, Steppenwolf, you can stop now)

Vauxhall OnStar

For starters. Vauxhall, by any other name - as in, in many another country - is actually known as Opel.

Gist of ad: Annoying kid neighbour points out to shiny new car owner all the features he could have had with his new toy if he'd only not been so cheap (now that in itself could actually be a very British problem indeed).

Company origin: Germany

Pet peeves: Where do we start. Unrelated to the dubbing, offence is caused by the fact that the adverts use cars with left-hand drive when everyone knows that isn't the way we do things in Britain! Do keep up! Aside from that. The child is pretty obnoxious, the man is quite insipid, and all of this before we even mention the dubbing. Which is spectacularly bad. We are all about an unexpected voice coming out when someone is singing (using British examples, pick your poison: Susan Boyle or Sam Smith), however, when the lip sync is out of sync, and the voices very clearly do not match, you have to wonder who allowed this mess out in public in the first place. (also... frosted tips? Which decade are we in?)

Still on the subject of cars...


Gist of ad: A couple are buying a car, the sales assistant asks about method of payment, the customer says cheque, and the sales assistant writes them a cheque. Hilarity ensues.

Company origin: France

Pet peeves: There is literally no attempt made by this advert producer to even act like they have bothered to match the voices with the mouths. Not one. We know that cheque is an outdated work these days anyway (and that yes, in America, it would be a check anyway...) but come on, Renault, a little effort, please!

Time for a sweet treat...

...because we're talking chocolate.


Gist of ad: There are so many offensive examples of Kinder dubbing their adverts that there is an entireFacebook page dedicated to it.

Company origin: Every day is a school day. We assumed with a name like Kinder – German for children – that it would be a German company. Nein! Whilst Kinder was developed and produced in the German branch of Ferrero in 1967, Ferrero SpA is actually Italian.

Pet peeves: Complaints range from bad acting to badly matched voices; there is a wealth to choose from, so take your pick!

Photo via Wikipedia

And now for a spot of cleaning...


Vanish is known as Resolve in North America.

Gist of ad: Primary school teacher is teaching her young charges colours, her white shirt is so very off-white that it is mistaken for grey.

Company origin: Reckit Benckiser is, uh, a UK company...

Pet peeves: As with the Renault ad we have previously mentioned, zero effort has been made, whatsoever, to even attempt to get the voices to match the mouths. There even sounds like the wrong amount of children shouting out the different colours: are we to assume that this classroom is, in fact, a T.A.R.D.I.S. And that there is ample space for more progeny off-camera?

Learning a new language? Check out our free placement test to see how your level measures up!

And smell masking...


Gist of ad:Karl has friends coming over. Mother smells his room. It is bad. Febreze is used.

Photo via Flickr

Company origin: Proctor & Gamble is American.

Pet peeves: Now, you would think that perhaps an English speaking country could produce an English language advert (...commercial...) that would be palatable to the British ear. But no! It seems even the American accent is beyond our understanding, for this very easy to lip-read advert is so obviously, painfully, badly dubbed that it makes us want to throw things at the TV. More than that scene from The Walking Dead (… but that could actually be so many scenes... take your pick).

Which raises the question...

Why would an American English advert need dubbing into British English anyway? We expect such looping for films where there are particularly strong accents (think Trainspotting and Scottish for an American ear), but is it really necessary to advertise a brand of hair dye (Just For Men, we're looking at you)? Especially when it is only because the accent is different?

Here is a technical answer from a contributor to the forum Overclockers:


And here is some reasoning based on what is and isn't allowed in UK/US advertising from TV Forum:


One of the main reasons for adverts being dubbed when multiple languages are involved is surely cost: shooting one advert and having it dubbed in multiple languages for a multinational company is surely a saving both economically and with time.

However. Looking at some of the worst offenders above and pondering how much money, as a multinational, they must make, it is highly inexcusable.

Or perhaps that is the British in us just complaining for the sake of complaining again...