Language blunders in naming. Do Etron, Eblan, Pedik, and other brands know what their names mean in other languages?

Language blunders in naming

There is no doubt that in any country or even city, there are companies that have a bit of a problem with naming, to say the least. Like, for example, Triumph Funeral Agency, or nursing home The End. But this is not so terrible. The funniest thing starts when large companies go international and open branches in other countries or bring their product to new markets, without thinking about possible linguistic blunders. Today we want to talk about just that, using a few striking cases as examples.

For example, there is a shoe brand in China called Eblan, which was planning to enter the Russian market, but they decided to change the name because in Russian the word “Eblan” is a very unliterary insult. One can continue the topic of Russian mother-tongue words endlessly, using the example of luxury Korean cosmetics O HUI, which means nothing but “male genitalia”, or Czech foot cosmetics Pedik, which is an insulting reference to gays. For exactly the same reason in Latin America, Mitsubishi had to rename the Pajero SUV model to Montenero.

Even recognized international giants have not been spared this problem. Coca-Cola made a big mistake when it mixed English and the language of indigenous New Zealanders – Maori – in its slogan. It was supposed to be “Hello, Mate”, where kia ora means “hello” in the local language and mate means “friend, buddy” in English. That would be all right, but in Maori, mate means “death”. And Pepsi once went to China with a slogan that was relevant at the time, “Live with the Pepsi generation”. But the translation was “Pepsi will make your ancestors rise from their graves.”

Coors used the slogan Turn It Loose! to promote its beer, not realizing that in Spanish it means “Suffer from Diarrhea!”. And the Spanish-speaking market is known to be the second largest. Parker Pens also once made a big splash in the Spanish-speaking market by translating their slogan: It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you, which turned literally into “It will never leak in you and make you pregnant”.

Continuing the theme of the Spanish-speaking market, one cannot help but recall the automobile giant Chevrolet, which, when introducing its Nova model to the Latin American market, failed to take into account that “no va” means “no go” in Spanish. And Mazda Laputa refused to read the inscriptions on fences and did not know that “La Puta” means “Prostitute”.

Clairol entered the German market with dry deodorants under the slogan Mist Stick. However, the word Mist means “manure” in German slang. Colgate, on the other hand, entered the French market with Cue toothpaste. That could all be fine, but it’s the name of a popular pornographic magazine in France. The Audi TT model failed in France too, because “tete coupe” means “severed head” and the Etron model failed because “etron” is French for “pile of shit”. Speaking of shit, this is what the name of the Danish beer brand Gavno means in Russian.

But the Russians themselves have been wrong many times. So Lada Kalina in Finland became Lada 119. Because “Kalina” means “rattling” in Finnish.

And, of course, it is impossible not to mention the most politically incorrect blunder of Russian marketers. And at what high level! Gazprom and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation decided to create a common company, and not thinking long, they decided to combine their names, and the organization “Nigaz” was formed.

We still would like to end this branding absurdity on a more positive note. So let’s remember a large American chicken producer Frank Purdue, who used the slogan “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken”. It takes a sexually aroused man to make a chicken tender — this is how it sounded in some translations. Now we know the secret to a good dinner.