Opps ReelIf last month’s “Blushing Blunders” Oops Reel still has you red in the face, prepare yourself. The following examples veer from inappropriate to extremely offensive. For these naming disasters, the crisis communication team better be in place because recovering from blunders like this would be difficult.

Game Gaffe
Vitamin Water created a promotion where its caps featured one word in English and one in French. The idea was to have customers combine these caps to form funny phrases and win prizes. It seems like a fairly harmless, quirky buzz-builder, right? It was, until a customer opened her water to read “You retard.” “Retard” means “late” or “delay,” as “to be late” or “to be behind schedule” in French. To add insult to injury, this customer has a sister with a mental handicap. Obviously offended, she publicly expressed her outrage, leading to quite a crisis for the company. Parent company Coca-Cola apologized profusely to the family and its customers, expressing the offensive combination was unintentional. According to Coke, the word combinations were simply happenstance, overlooked during internal review. While this example is not about naming a product, it illustrates the point that name validation experts should be consulted whether you’re working on an advertising campaign, tagline or naming project.
Source: ABC News

Painful Connotation
Zyklon was the name of the gas used to murder millions of Jews in Nazi concentration camps. That sentence alone makes me cringe. What’s worse is sports manufacturer Umbro once produced and promoted a line of running shoes with that very name “Zyklon.” Not surprisingly, the shoes were quickly withdrawn from the marketplace after the company received numerous complaints from Jewish organizations who alerted Umbro of the naming disaster.
Source: PR Week

This Name Generated Too Many Giggles
Things went sideways for Fukushima Industries, an Osaka-based refrigerator maker, when it created an egg-like mascot with blue wings and red feet named Fukuppy. (The company name has nothing to do with the nuclear plant, rather a derivative of the founder’s name.) “Nice to meet you,” the character with a human face announces to visitors to the company’s website. The name is a combination of the first part of the company name “Fuku” and the end of the English word “happy.” The company’s intent was for the mascot to embody the corporate philosophy of being a happiness-creating company. Instead, the mascot’s name was widely snickered on the internet and viewed, according to a company statement, as “an inappropriate word among people in English-speaking places.”
Source: Japan Today

I implore you – avoid naming disasters such as these! Would you rather spend time and money on name validation behind the scenes or on crisis communications in the public eye?