22 March 2012 - 5:13pm | posted by | 1 comment

Oral sex anyone? New Kraft name runs into tongue twister in Russia

About that new name . . .About that new name . . .

What's in a name? More than you might think. The name that Kraft Foods has chosen for its global snack spinoff -- Mondelez International -- may be less appealing in Russia.

Kraft says the names signifies "worldwide deliciousness". Monde means "world" in French, and delez, with a long E at the end , is a play on "delish" pronounced "mohn-dah-LEEZ."

A Russian speaker, however, contacted AdAge to say that the name sounds like the Russian term for an oral-sex act.

AdAge ran the term by a few other Russian speakers .More knew it as the insult than not. The offending term, manda, is on Wikipedia's Russian profanity page.

"What they say is perfectly true," confirmed Irwin Weil, professor of Russian language at Northwestern University. " A rather vulgar word, 'manda.' [Mondelez] includes the sound of that word," he said.

Kraft probably "had no idea that when pronounced it is a Russian vulgar word." The second half of the name roughly translates into the sex act, said Russian speakers.

The magazine said it was an "unfortunate slip" for Kraft, which has a growing presence in Russia with products largely aimed at women.

Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, said It showed the minefield of potential missteps in applying a single name across a multitude of countries. "If you miss a national or cultural translation, you end up in this precise situation,"he said.

Kraft said it researched the new name. "We did extensive due diligence in testing the name," Kraft spokesman John Simley said. "That included two rounds of focus groups in 28 languages, including Russian. We determined misinterpretations in any of the languages to be low-risk."

Shareholders will have the last word on the Mondelez name when they meet on May 23.


27 Mar 2012 - 16:28
guymo16942's picture

We do global name checks for big brands all the time (although not the Kraft one). When our Russian account manager here saw the word ‘Mondelez’, she certainly did not see anything bad in Russian, although now it’s been pointed out to her, she can see it could be twisted to make a rude word. It’s like saying Volvo sounds like Vulva – sure it’s there if you have a dirty mind and are looking for it, but you don’t think of the female anatomy every time you see a Swedish car (well I don’t anyway). Guy Gilpin – Mother Tongue.


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