The marketing and sales departments of major brands of cars on the market have not been always successful when baptizing new models, or simply have not taken into account the linguistic and cultural peculiarities of some parts of the globe.
Make it clear first that we respect and understand these marketing professionals because been honest to find an effective global naming without hurt anyone’s feelings is a very complicated affair. But here we go with some examples so you can understand the magnitude of what we are talking about: ‘Zica’, ‘Laputa’, ‘Pajero’, ‘Moco’ or ‘Corrida’. What, for example, in Norway can be a lighthearted and youthful concept, in an Asian country it can be something totally vulgar and absolutely disgusting. The confusion is served.
One of the most recent examples has been lived by the Indian manufacturer ‘Tata’ that had to rebrand its urban small as Tiago, leaving the original name ‘Zica’. Obviously the global threat posed by this virus did not help much when placing the product on the market. Therefore the brand, through a contest, decided to opt for ‘Tiago’ in honor of the famous footballer who played in the football team ‘Atlético de Madrid’.
A case that for sure you remember is the ‘Mitsubishi Pajero’. The car had to change its name in several Spanish-speaking countries for ‘Montero’. The clear reference to onanism wouldn’t be understood in countries like Spain which didn’t know the true origin of its name, a South American cat known as ‘cat pajonales’. In this sense, names with sexual reminiscences have been the most controversial ones.
Another famous example is ‘Maza Laputa’, a car that never came to be sold in Spain, but did in the US.
Other famous example is the ‘Nissan Moco’ a microcar that to make matters worse, manufactured in green. Another interesting case is the ‘Ford Corrida’, a prototype of the 70 that never reached the market, or the contemporary ‘Lancia Marica’, a model that was presented in Italy, but in Spain did not reach dealers.
To continue with the list of unfortunate names (all real examples, we promise) we recall the ’Kia Borrego’, who was renamed like ‘Mohave’ in honor of the famous American Nevada desert.
Conversely we can highlight the example of ‘Seat Malaga’, which in Greek lands was renamed Gredos, because the Greek meaning was quite disgusting. Something similar happened to Toyota MR2, whose French acronym came too close to the word ‘merde’. And we have even more examples. The ‘Volkswagen Jetta’, one of the biggest blockbusters of the German brand in Spain sounded quite funny for the Spanish market. Also this word means ‘bad luck’, in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.
Hence the fifth generation of this vehicle came to adopt the name of ‘Vento’ in that countries. We also have the case of ‘Fiat Uno’ which didn`t reach the market in Finland as in the national language this word means something like ‘idiot’. In Sweden it happened the same with ‘Fiat Regatta’, which referred in their language to a term for “cheating your wife”. In short, the list is long and during the last Geneva Motor Show it was expanded with the presentation of ‘Apolo Apollon’. A funny name that, at least in Spain, will provoke endless jokes.