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More Marketing Language Blunders (Pt 2/3)

More accidental connotations inadvertent innuendo


Following part 1 of our series on language blunders companies have stepped into when entering new markets, we’ll look at more disasters that almost and did happen, mainly in the automobile industry.

Also, see part 3 for famous examples that never actually happened!

  1. Wikipedia maintain a long list of name changes from Isis due to the ISIS terrorist group.Cars (on Wikipedia):
  2. The Ford “Pinto” initially failing in the Brazillian market, meaning “male genitals” in local slang. They quickly renamed it “Corcel”, meaning horse or steed.
    Ford Pinto ad showing a horse next to the car
  3. The Honda Fit/Jazz. They ALMOST launched it as the “Fitta” before feedback gathered from multiple markets revealed the “Fitta” is a vulgar term for female genitalia in Swedish and Norwegian – essentially, “pussy.” Luckily the problem was caught early on.
  4. The Mitsubishi “Pajero” was renamed in Spanish speaking countries, where the word is a slang term for “masturbator”.Cars Not on Wikipedia:
  5. The Kia “Besta” in Brazil needing a rename because while it can mean “beast”, it can also be a derogatory term for an idiot.
  6. GM were caught in 2003 with just a year to spare, discovering the new Buick LaCrosse means “masturbator” in Quebec. They decided to keep the name anyway.
  7. Rolls-Royce almost released the “Silver Mist” in the 1960s, but switched to “Silver Shadow” as “mist” means “excrement” in German.
  8. The Tata “Zica,” announced in 2015 had to be changed to the “Tiago” after the outbreak of the Zika virus.

Further reading:

  • Part 1 of this series
  • Part 3 of this series for famous examples debunked

What do you think?

Written by David Frank

David Frank is a Seattle-based marketer, writer (co-founder of Good/Bad Marketing) and public speaker. Originally from Perth, Western Australia, he has also lived in the UK, Japan and Vietnam. He has a Master of Science in Marketing degree from Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland.

He tours talks on marketing for the general public. His current talks are:
- Dangerous Products: The History and Present of Products NOT Safe to Consume
- Sensory Marketing and the Subtle Science of Packaging
- Sex, Love & Marketing: How To Market Yourself On Online Dating Sites​
- How to Market Tobacco (Despite Those Pesky Advertising Bans)
Learn more at

In his spare time, David is an avid gardener.

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