Branding is the hardest part

by Volker Weber

Microsoft Corp. market researchers in Quebec found themselves in a potential linguistic pickle when they conducted consumer test-runs of the digital music player Zune, which the company officially announced on Thursday will be competing by Christmas with Apple's hugely successful iPod.

A Microsoft spokeswoman in Montreal told CanWest News Service that "it was pointed out to us" during focus groups in the province that the proposed brand name sounded much like a French-Canadian term used as a euphemism for penis or vagina.

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Ok, but which is it?

Bob Balaban, 2006-10-04

Appears that they'll be selling their Zune for cash.

Dennis Ellison, 2006-10-04

I think in Montreal, it doesn't matter which.

Andrew Pollack, 2006-10-05

LOL! Now can we expect a new Zune form factor at CES this year?

I'm sure one of those small manufacturer shops upstairs in building three can crank out a few models and see what the interest is...."Look, it has a vibrate feature too!"


Brian Benz, 2006-10-05

That's a common problem. Guess why the Mitsubishi "Pajero" is sold as "Montero" in Spain? ;-) And in the UK it's called "Shogun" - why ever...

Max Nierbauer, 2006-10-05

GM's Buick division sells a car in the USA called the "LaCROSSE" [link] but in Canada that same car is called "Allure" [link]. I don't speak French, but it is my understanding that US Buick name in Quebec French is slang for something similar to Zune but that it is more of an action than a noun.

Ken Porter, 2006-10-05

There also is the case for the Toyota MR2, which is sold in France as Toyota MR. MR2 in French [ɛm ɛʀ ˈdø] sounds like "merde", [ˈmɛʀd]...(Shit).

This can also happen for names as well. I know one French girl named Fanny by her parents, and I have an indian colleague whose name is Ashish. Hard to keep a straight face in those situations.

Andrew Magerman, 2006-10-05

I guess I have a particularly lucky name :-)

Timo Stamm, 2006-10-06

Me too :-)

Dirk Oppelt, 2006-10-09

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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