Nokia's hot new smart phone, the Lumia, is a little hotter than the corporation's South American marketers probably desired: It translates to "prostitute" in Spanish. The Finish cell phone maker is not alone in inadvertently entertaining speakers of different languages when they launch new products. Some past highlights:
- Apple's Siri The artificially-intelligent fembot on the new iPhone 4S is a great feature. But in Japan it comes off as a little odd. Siri translates to "Rump, ass, bottom."
- Clairol's "Mist Stick" Hair products giant Clairol had a problem selling its "Mist Stick" curling iron in Germany. How come? The word "mist" is German for "manure" or "excrement." Not something you wanted around your hair.
- Mitsubishi Pajero This Japanese sports utility vehicle was named after the Leopardus pajeros, a cat native to a southern region of Argentina. Unfortunately, the term pajero is commonly used as "wanker" in Spanish. It's alternatively marketed now as the Mitsubishi Montero. Good call.
- Sega The popular video game maker SEGA had a problem in Italy: "sega" is a widely used name for male masturbation. Cleverly, the videogame maker altered the pronunciation to "see-ga" when it was marketing in the country. Problem solved!
- Chevy Nova Wrong: Trick answer! Thought it's widely-believed that the Chevy Nova sold poorly in South America because its name translates to "no go," the rumor has been debunked by Scopes.com, noting that this would be like dinette set failing in America because it's called Notable. "The truth is that the Chevrolet Nova's name didn't significantly affect its sales: it sold well in both its primary Spanish-language markets."
- Fresca In Mexico, Fresca is a word for lesbian. It's been the source of cheap laughs in Mexico but it hasn't reportedly hurt sales. That's consumer tolerance! Maybe the Nokia Lumia will have similar luck?
- The Coors 'Turn it loose!' campaign This campaign was working magnificently in the U.S. for beer giant Coors. Unfortunately, when marketed to Spanish-speaking countries the meaning translates to "Suffer from Diarrhea."
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