Paul Sylvestre's Business Strategy and Marketing Blog

Saturday, July 02, 2005

What's In a Name? Sometimes More Than You Think.

Everyone's heard about the failed Chevy Nova automobile in Latin America (a.k.a. No Va or No Go). While very believable, it's actually an urban legend. Well, here's a real story (as far as I can tell) that highlights a potential pitfall for international marketers.

The marketing team behind Kelloggs' Coco Pops recently launched Coco Rocks, which, according to Kelloggs, is an exciting new jungle-inspired spin-off of the cereal. Unfortunately for them, they don't seem to have done their research. The new cereal brand launched in the UK earlier this year means something very, very different to some consumers.

Coco rocks is a term used to describe dark brown crack (cocaine) made by adding chocolate pudding during production. God knows why anyone would want to do that, but they do.

"You'd think people like Kelloggs would have teams of people checking new brand names out to see what they might mean," said a spokeswoman for leading drugs advice charity Drugscope.

Vicki Barton, a public relations spokeswoman for the cereal company, said the association was, "not funny - someone could lose their job over this."

The Coco Rocks concept was initially launched outside the UK without mishap. But according to Con Doherty, a writer with the London Line, it follows a number of international brands which don't translate well to new markets. Check these out for a laugh:

Zit Lemon-lime - Greek soft drink
Colon Plus Liquid - Spanish detergent
Polio - Czech detergent
Krapp - Swedish toilet paper
Homo Sausage Beef jerky - Japan
Mucos - Japanese soft drink
Pansy - Chinese men's underwear
Fockink - Dutch liqueur
Pshitt - French soft drink

Have a great weekend!