Branding Disaster!

The culmination of Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev to Nigeria last week ended in the announcement of a joint gas venture aptly named – wait for it – NIGAZ!

All hell broke loose on Twitter as the story spread like wild fire. The tagline, “gas with attitude” was even suggested.

The connotations of the name seemed to have eluded both parties as it will go down in branding history as one of the worst blunders.

Brand Republic reminds us of some past blunders:

* The Ford Pinto ‑ which in Brazil means small penis

* The Pepsi slogan “come alive with the Pepsi generation”. In Taiwan this rousing motto translated as “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead”.

* Mitsubishi was forced to change the name of its SUV model the Pajero in Spain, where the term means ‘wanker’.

* Chinese translations are fraught with difficulties — Kentucky Fried Chicken’s “finger lickin’ good” managed to come out as “eat your fingers off”

* Starbucks opted to stick with the term ‘latte’ when it launched in Germany, to the amusement of locals. While the word means ‘milk’ in Italian, in German it is a slang term for ‘erection’.

* A simple translation error meant that a Parker Pen ad run in Mexico ended up promising consumers that it would not “leak in your pocket and make you pregnant”

Next time you want to name that product, THINK!


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Nigaz…proof in point that branding should not be left up to amateurs. I got dirty looks and shooshed when I mentioned the naming blunder in a culturally diverse social setting. Bottom line, it may not be offensive in Russia or Nigeria, but it is elsewhere.

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