All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

Only Joe King

A light-hearted look at life in Andalucía and Spain in general. Its good points and its bad. This blog doesn't pull any punches.

On the lookout for a new car? Marketing mistakes.
Monday, May 8, 2023 @ 3:40 AM

If you’re thinking of buying a new car, be careful! You might end up with an off-road w**ker, a sh**ty sports car, a dungmobile or a car that doesn’t go, writes Joe King.


Yes, it’s true!

A Mitsubishi Pajero shouldn’t really sell at all in a Spanish-speaking country, because "pajero" means wanker, ie someone who masturbates. Yet this model, similar to a Shogun, is very popular all over Spain.

A Toyota MR2 has no place on a garage forecourt in France, because MR2 in French is pronounced “emmerdeux”, which, you guessed it, means shitty.

The Rolls Royce Silver Mist classic car had to be renamed in Germany, because "Mist" means dung, not the right image for such an expensive luxury car.

The Opel/Vauxhall Nova was renamed the Corsa for the Spanish-speaking market, simply because to describe a car by saying “it doesn’t go” is plain stupid.

Other celebrated faux pas have been the Mazda Laputa, because la puta is the Spanish for whore. This model was renamed in Spanish-speaking countries, though strangely not in the USA where Spanish is the second most-widely spoken language after English. Much to the amusement of many Hispanics.

The Fiat Marea didn’t sell well in Spanish-speaking markets either, since marea means sick, puke.

Another Italian marque, Lancia, planned to launch the Marica but it never got further than the drawing board. Marica is the Spanish for "queer" or "homosexual"!

Volkswagen have had several dodgy moments with their model names over the years. Golf and Jetta were either daft or problematic in some markets, although they got away with "Käfer", the cult classic VW Beetle. I find Polo funny; the car with the hole in the middle (cf. Polo mints ad campaign).

So, bear all of this in mind when choosing a new car.


Moving away from cars, the Germans had a problem with Vick vapour rub, because of the pronunciation (“Fick” means f*ck!), so the spelling was changed for German-speaking markets to Wick, pronounced “Vick”.

Then we have Colon washing powder and Bimbo bread in Spain, Pschitt lemonade in France, not to mention ShitBegone toilet paper, Wack Off insect repellent and Minipussi snacks in China.  Drinks named Sars, Cok, Erektus, and Fart hold little attraction for me, and as for Homo sausage and Shitto hot pepper sauce, well, I’d need MyFannie kitchen roll to mop up the sick!

Even where foreign language translations and cultural misunderstandings are not the issue, things can still go wrong.  Take the unfortunate advertising slogan for vacuum cleaners in the USA: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”, or the relaunch a few years back of Reed Business News with the branding: “If it’s news to you, it’s news to us!”

I’m off now to “bite the wax tadpole”, the Chinese for (drink a) coca cola.  No, seriously, back in 1928 that was the result of the company’s first attempt to find a suitable transliteration into Chinese characters for their product.  Fortunately, and after much research, the name was changed to something which can be loosely translated as “happiness in the mouth”, which is much more palatable.




Happy motoring!

© Joe King


About Joe King

Joe, not his real name, is a bit of an enigma. He has lived in the Serranía de Ronda for many years, but prefers to fly under the radar.

He doesn’t take life too seriously, except in the case of Covid-19, but even there he can see the funny side.

He prefers to use a pseudonym and an anonimised photo.




Tags: Bimbo, Coca cola, Cok, Colon, Corsa, Electrolux, emmerdeux, Erektus, Fart, Fiat, Homo, Joe King, Laputa, Marea, marketing mistakes, Mazda, Minipussi, Mist, Mitsubishi, MR2, MyFanni, Nova, Opel, pajero, Pschitt, puke, puta, Reed Business News, Rolls Royce, Sars, ShitBegone, Shitto, shitty, sick, Toyota, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, VW, Wack Off, wanker, wax tadpole

Like 2


Dave11 said:
Saturday, May 13, 2023 @ 10:05 AM


PablodeRonda said:
Sunday, May 14, 2023 @ 9:23 AM

Hi Dave11
Thanks for your kind comment. I think the whole topic of marketing and naming mistakes is great fun.

Only registered users can comment on this blog post. Please Sign In or Register now.


This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x