Product Names of IKEA

To me, they mean nothing; however, it is not the case for Thai people! IKEA opened its first store in Bangkok and it resulted in a linguistic problem 🙂 In Swedish, I guess all the product names have a certain meaning but in other languages, these words might mean very very bad things! We have many examples for this issue. You should remember the Ford Nova case, which is quite popular in marketing classes 🙂 You know the French or Spanish (I Dont quite remember) pronunciation of “Nova” means “No Go” or something like that. So when you give this name to a car, it is not good at all 🙂 The car “should go”. In IKEA case, there is a similar situation which requires further linguistic and marketing research. Let’s see what UPI.com says about this:

“BANGKOK, June 9 (UPI) — A language squad spent four years vetting IKEA product names before the Swedish furniture giant opened its new Bangkok store last year.

Natthita Opaspipat, a member of the team, told The Wall Street Journal IKEA’s Swedish names “bring a unique character to the brand.” But she said misunderstandings are easy when they are heard by Thai speakers.

“We’ve got to be careful,” Natthita said. “Some of them can be, well, a little rude.”

The Redalen bed, for example, named after a town in Norway, sounds like a Thai term for sexual intercourse. Part of the name of the Jattebra plant pot also sounds like a term for the sex act, a term not used in polite society.

IKEA’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, began using children’s names and place names in the Scandinavian countries for his products in the 1950s because he himself was dyslexic. While the company’s sources of names have expanded along with its product line, it is still Scandinavian.

Natthita said the team has tried to keep as close to the original as possible, sometimes only changing a single letter. Team members have to consider both how a word sounds and what it will look like when spelled out in Thai’s cursive alphabet.”

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4 responses to this post.

  1. […] Product Names of IKEA « AIM Danışmanlık | Consulting […]

    Reply

  2. Posted by Sulabha Sidhaye on June 19, 2012 at 12:47

    Can we call it interlingual irony ?

    Reply

  3. ”The runner up is…” Did it go unnoticed elsewhere in the world besides Australia?
    What about the verbal mistake/announcement – at the French Open at Roland Garros Re: Maria Sharapova? Very little has been revealed about that. Who was responsible for the mistake, besides the announcer?… What followed after that? All very quite. Came and went with hardly a comment from the I/T community.

    Reply

  4. More interlingual irony…
    I am not sure if this is 100% correct but the Rolls Royce Silver Mist apparently didn’t go down a treat in Germany as mist means shit in German, I understand.
    The Mazda LaPuta, Mistubishi Pajero and Nissan Moco have similarly unfortunate meanings in Spanish. If you see the green Nissan Moco ads, you can hardly believe it is coincidental that Moco is snot in Spanish.

    Reply

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