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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Super what?

Driving to work this morning, I was checking out the car in front (as you do) - some kind of people carrier/minibus hybrid - and noticed it was called a "Bongo Friendee" (made by Mazda, as I later found out after a quick Google search).

Bongo Friendee.

Whilst I admire the use of "Bongo" in any phrase, I'm just not sure how they think this is a good name for a motor vehicle. Can you imagine the conversation down the pub:

Dave: "Yeah, I've got my new motor sorted"
Bob: "Oh yeah, what is it then?"
Dave: "It's a Mazda Bongo Friendee"
Bob: "Oh, nice, yeah, the old Bongo Friendee, good car that one..."

I can't even think about the name without creasing up. Usually at inopportune moments at my desk at work. My colleagues are starting to get concerned...

It seems to me that we English are very intolerant of stupidly-named products - much more so than our European neighbours. When I was in France, I noted that "Crunchy Nut Cornflakes" (they're crunchy and nutty and they're cornflakes - yep, a nice, descriptive name) were known as "Cracky Nut". Which means absolutely nothing in French. They required smallprint under the name to explain what the product was. I believe they are now called, simply "Crunchy Nut". No more meaningful for them, slightly less amusing for me to contemplate... My (English) friend and I used to be doubled over during our early trips to French supermarkets at some of the product names. Cereals were particular offenders in this domain - my favourite was "Cropsy Fruit". Just what could it mean?

Look at the furore over here when Marathon was changed to Snickers, Opal Fruits to Starburst, Jif to Cif (not that Jif was at all meaningful) and the inexplicable change from Oil of Ulay to Oil of Olay. I can only assume that "Ulay" means "Soapy Tit Wank" in Greek or something... It's this whole idea of harmonising product names across Europe (and the world) so that instead of being meaningful in at least one country, we now have completely meaningless names in all countries. Like the wonderful "Cillit Bang".

The latest example of this to come to my attention is "Super Mocio".

In the beginning (well, in the early 90s at any rate), there was the Vileda Super Mop. It's a mop, it's made by Vileda and the manufacturer claims that it's "Super" (though I would argue, that's for the consumer to decide...). What could be clearer?

So what, dear reader, is a "mocio"? Okay, it may be "Super", it may be made by Vileda, but what, pray, is a "mocio"? It sounds more like an elaborate form of coffee served up by the likes of Starbucks. "I'll have a double tall skinny mocio-latte please...". It's a mop, okay? No amount of badly dubbed adverts will convince me otherwise.

No, they can keep their mocio. I'd rather have a nice cup of tea.


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