Skip to main content

When bad names happen to good companies

What’s in a name? Plenty, as the folks at Japanese refrigeration company Fukushima Industries have discovered. Their little egg with wings has flown across the Internet, all because of the mascot’s unfortunate name: Fukuppy.

It started innocently enough. Four letters from the surname of the company’s founder, Mr. Nobuo Fukushima. Three letters from the English word “happy”. Put them together and what do you get? A disaster smaller than Fukushima Daiichi, but certainly a naming meltdown.

It’s not the first. Nokia’s Lumia means “prostitute” in Spanish. Ford’s Pinto turned out to be “small penis” in Brazilian slang. And when Coca-Cola first translated its name into Chinese, the result was “Bite the wax tadpole.”

Naming is a tricky business, and it doesn’t get easier in a global context. Perhaps Sweden’s most international advertising agency can help?

PS: Speaking of names, this author still has trouble eating the Swedish candy “Plopp”.