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Greetings, death: Coca-Cola's marketing slogan backfires badly in New Zealand

Key Points
  • One of Coca-Cola's marketing slogans in New Zealand has turned into an embarrassing blunder for the company, according to media reports.
  • The company had a vending machine signage in New Zealand that read, "Kia ora, mate" — which essentially translates to "Greetings, death," in the Maori language.

Beverage-maker Coca-Cola made a marketing blunder in New Zealand, according to media reports.

The company ran a vending machine signage in the country that read "Kia ora, mate," according to online publication Stuff.

Tweet: When the languages don't mix well.

Coca-Cola's attempts to mix English with te reo Maori — the language spoken by New Zealand's indigenous people — backfired.

While "kia ora" is a form of greeting in the Maori language, which is one of the country's official languages, "mate" means death. The slogan essentially read, "Greetings, death."

In English, the word mate is commonly used to refer to friends and strangers alike in places like New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

CNBC has reached out to Coca-Cola for comment.

Earlier this week, a spokesperson from the company told Maori Television that the words were "meant to bring Maori and English together," and that the label was not being disrespectful to any culture.

Social media users pointed out the irony of the slogan from the beverage-maker, given the impact of sugary drinks.

New Zealand has one of the highest obesity rates in the developed world, according to The Guardian, and its indigenous community is particularly affected.

Others criticized the lack of research from Coca-Cola.

Tweet: Putting aside the failure to recognise the meaning of 'mate' in te reo Māori, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say "kia ora, mate" when speaking in te reo Pākehā. It sounds like trying too hard.

Read the full story from Stuff about Coca-Cola's marketing blunder in New Zealand here.