Nov 29 2006
…Later this year PC users in Latvia can look forward to a chicken on every disk when Microsoft releases Vista, which in Latvian means â€œfrumpy womanâ€ or â€œchicken.â€
Meanwhile, closer to home, Microsoft media users in Quebec raised their eyebrows last summer when the company announced its new Zune media player. It seems that â€œZuneâ€ sounds like â€œzoune,â€ a dated, cutesy slang term for genitalia in la belle province. Microsoft dismissed the homophony as a nonissue and said that the association of the slang term with its music player was â€œquite a stretch.â€
The bottom line: We assume that Microsoft decided that giving 1.3 million Latvians a good laugh or unduly offending a few million QuÃ©becois wasn’t worth sacrificing otherwise good product names.
Microsoft isnâ€™t alone. Last year General Motors rolled out its Buick LaCrosse in Canada, causing sophomoric twitters among those same francophones in Quebec. It seems that â€œla crosseâ€ is a slang term for self-gratification. Every guy wants his ride to make him feel like a stud, but this name went a bit too far for Buick, whose average buyer is 68 years old.
….Whenever one of our clients decides to take a product or a brand name beyond its home turf, I always recommend that they get help on linguistic, cultural, economic, and legal issues.
…don’t take the chance of being the subject of blog entries and sophomoric twitters for something so easily avoided.