Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Urban Atrocity

There are several stories about companies who sold their products in ways that were incomprehensible.

A sneaker company decided to call a brand of shoe "the incubus."  This shoe was a woman's sneaker. Nobody, apparently, decided to look up what the word incubus meant.  They just thought it sounded right. An incubus is a devilish spirit that has unsolicited sexual relations with women as they are sleeping during the night.  It is not a common word, but it is a word, and it has a meaning, and the meaning is such that if you are a woman you are unlikely to want to wear a shoe named after a devil who rapes.

An automobile company could not understand why their vehicle was not selling in Spanish speaking countries the same way it had been selling in other locations.  The name for the car was a nova.  This was a problematic name for a vehicle because in Spanish, no va, means "it doesn't go."  Unlikely that one would want to buy a car that advertises itself as one that is not mobile.

A paint company had a similar problem with Spanish speaking countries and one of its slogans.  The slogan was "[the paint product] for years".  The intended message was that if you used this paint it was durable and one would not have to repaint as frequently. The problem was that when printed, the advertised slogan left off the ~ in años, and instead of "[the paint product] for años", wrote [the paint product] for anos".  Años means years in Spanish; anos means anus, if you don't want to employ the street term for that part of the anatomy.

Anos may be the operative word for something I heard about last night.  As opposed to the examples identified above which were born of ignorance, this example was fueled by what can only be called an amalgam of idiocy and insensitivity.  I read that Urban Outfitters had produced a Kent State sweatshirt for sale.  In what I am sure some fool thought was "thinking out of the box" and "pushing the envelope" the product had blood stains on it, in order to ha, ha, ho, ho. refer to the killings at Kent State University in 1970, when for no good reason, four students were murdered, another was paralyzed, and several others were shot.  These shootings were called by a commission that studied the murders, "unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable."  Jeffrey Miller, Alison Krause, Sandy Scheuer, and Bill Schroeder were murdered in a parking lot that day.  So, let's peddle, ha, ha, ho, ho, a sweatshirt with Kent State on it and blood stains.  Anos.

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