A couple of months ago I came across a campaign for a regional gym brand with a more than suggestive slogan: Fit mich. At the time I decided not to post it, as I try to focus more on the international angle on marketing stories in Germany. To explain to non-native speakers what the intended take-out of this poster was (in case you can’t guess): it’s a double-entendre in German, as “fit mich” is extremely easily misheard as “fick mich” (ie, f*** me).
Some good friends of mine recently pointed out this word-play coming up again in advertising here in Germany, only this time probably not intentionally.
Maybelline New York, owned by L’Oréal, has a product range called Fit Me, and like many international lifestyle brands, it’s decided to keep its image and brand name uniform all around the world. I’m sure the marketing people in Germany were aware of the unfortunate sound of Fit Me, and may well have begged to make an exception in Germany (I would have!). But as this would have meant changing not just the ads, but also complete ranges of product packaging, they were never likely to win the argument.
Anyway, if you hear the name ringing out time and again in advertising, there comes a point where it simply sounds terrible. I’ve yet to see the German ad, but every time I replay this US ad and put my German hat on, it really does sound like fick me. And my friend winces every time she sees the ad on German TV. Probably a fitting response, for a bit of a misfit slogan.
Try to watch this ad and pretend that the woman is NOT saying “fick me” in the first close-up after 3 seconds…