Category Archives: Cultural hotpot


Bum Bum in the UK?

Ice cream: two arses

Naming brands is never easy, but if you’re a regional ice cream maker and hit upon an idea that works in your country, you’re probably not thinking about words and meanings beyond the borders of the domestic market. I met someone who worked for Schöller ice cream, based in Nuremberg. I was burning to know why their brand “Bum Bum” … Continue reading


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11 11

If you’re a German manufacturer, did you know it would be bad timing to launch a product in the UK on November 11th? How ironic that two nations who have fought each other in two World Wars should have such diametrically opposed customs on 11th November. In the UK, on 11th November, it being the date the First World War … Continue reading


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Sinful names

Even within the same language you have misunderstandings or different meanings for words – sometimes with hilarious results for brand manufacturers. A few years ago I bought a sweat top for my son in the States which left him in stitches. In big proud letters on the front: BUM. (In the States this means a tramp or beggar, in the … Continue reading


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German pride

Having lived in Germany for years, it amazes me how little pride Germans have in their own country. Is it inbred? In other countries flag waving and patriotism is normal, especially on national holidays. Here it’s considered “not the done thing”. Most Brits’ hearts start beating at the merest suggestion of the last night of the proms or the Queen’s … Continue reading


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Turkish consumers

While more and more people in west European countries complain about the rising number of immigrants, some marketing departments are recognising the demographic shifts and responding to the opportunity. In the States this started happening a long time ago. The Mexican population alone numbers more than 15m – that would be a whole country in Europe, it’s the size of … Continue reading


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Up yours

Nivea knows how NOT to fall into the traps set by cultural differences and the meaning of images by country. I scanned in the press ad below from a German magazine. It would never have appeared in a UK magazine (or Australia or NZ). Why? Because this gesture – cleverly suggesting to the German that this product has dual effects … Continue reading


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Pictures speak words

I have noticed that both the German language and German advertising has something about pigs. A recent high-profile advertising campaign for Media Markt (a major electronics retailer chain) used piglets as an eye-catcher, power companies have done it too. “Having pig”, as the Germans would say, means to enjoy good fortune. Marzipan piglets around Christmas are popular, meaning something like … Continue reading


Blatant sexism?

Feminist nightmare

The UK has gone totally PC (politically correct). Any hint of having a go at minorities, women, people of different race, creed, ability, and you’ll attract the wrath of the public screaming “leave them alone”. It’s engraved in law, sensibly, and is there for a reason. But it’s meant companies have had to clean up their advertising too. Unlike in … Continue reading


Cooped up in a box

Brushing up their act

There was a story doing the rounds in German industry a few years ago about the ridiculous randomness of legislation designed to cut packaging waste. I never saw confirmation of it, but it’s worth sharing. Apparently some authority decided that toothpaste cartons were unnecessary, even though companies using too much packaging has to pay “recycling tax” under the Green Dot … Continue reading


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Macho sexism?

Advertising for Astra beer, a local brew in Hamburg, would have feminists in the UK up in arms and screaming outside the company’s office. But here they seem to get away with it. Maybe they advertise in typical macho publications so the feminists don’t get to see the ads. Or maybe the Germans are simply more tolerant? One thing’s for … Continue reading


Vibrator or phone?

Too rude for prudes

Well if there has to be an example of advertising that would shock people in one country but still be allowed to run in others, it has to be this. I – as an Englishman – find this unbelievable. But it did happen. This was a real ad. And imagine countries with extreme religious beliefs – which includes certain areas … Continue reading