Trouble with a name
Updated: Jun 7, 2022
What happens when a company or product name which is perfectly acceptable in one country is perceived as an insult or slur in another? There are plenty of examples in the marketing and advertising world. When Vicks brought its Vapo-Rub to Germany it should have known that ‘v’ is pronounced with an ‘f’ sound in German and that “fick’s” sounds a lot like the German equivalent of the English f-word. Imagine asking a sales assistant “can I have a Vicks please” in German. Sales bombed.
But what do you do when an existing name has the wrong connotations? Lashings Hotel in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, had just such a problem. A perfectly acceptable name in the UK, meaning copious amounts of something - especially food, was deemed to have unfortunate slavery connections in Jamaica and as such had attracted some adverse reviews. The owner, David Folb, sent me a brief to explain the actual origin of the name to his Jamaican guests. He asked me to write an article for his website and the local media and also create something he could display in the hotel to correct the misconception.
I researched a lot about the Kent bar and cricket team the hotel was named after and found that Lashings World XI has an honourable history of charitable works and promoting sport in deprived parts of the world. Folby has a lot of memorabilia around the hotel and there is an art gallery which turned up a beautiful cricket illustration by Jamaican artist Deloris Anglin - which seemed perfect for the brief.
I loved working on this, such an interesting story and a lovely opportunity to promote something really positive.