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Toilet demon or courage? Duolingo wants to fix your terrible foreign-language tattoos

New campaign from the education app aims to make those language errors less permanent.

Toilet demon or courage? Duolingo wants to fix your terrible foreign-language tattoos
[Source Image: Duolingo]

As spring and summer approach, you must brace yourself to start seeing them out in public again—bad tattoos. There are many types of bad tattoos, of course, but perhaps one of the most consistent and clichéd genres of these is the mistranslated foreign-language ink. Whether it’s a translated saying in Sanskrit, Mandarin, Japanese, Thai, or any number of languages, the first thought that pops into my head is . . . I wonder what that really means.

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Now language education app Duolingo is offering people the chance to fix their mistranslated tattoos with its new “DuoOver” campaign.

For two weeks, starting March 21, the brand is taking applications from the unfortunately inked in the U.K. and France. It will pick the very worst tattoos, bring them to Paris for a “DuoOver,” and have their tattoo fixed at the Abraxas tattoo parlor. Applicants just need to post a photo of their tattoo on social media using the hashtag #TattooDuoOver, tagging Duolingo on Instagram or Twitter. Or, if the shame is too much, simply email the brand at TatooDuoOver@duolingo.com.

Among the examples given in Duolingo’s new commercial: a tattoo that the recipient thought meant “courage” actually means “toilet demon.” Created with ad agency BETC, the campaign is a rather extreme example of brand utility—but a much-appreciated example of public service.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity.

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