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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Brand Names in Contact: Cross-Cultural Marketing Blunders

O Fomenko
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine

While marketers place great emphasis on the creation of a brand name, they often fail to assess its meaning when marketing a brand in a new linguaculture, where the original or translated brand name or slogan might acquire comic, offensive or vulgar connotation.
Whereas the studies on brand names have been conducted on the data of many languages (Bergh, Adler, and Oliver 1987; Robertson 1989; Chan 1990, Chan & Huang 1997, 1999, 2001; Ricks 1999; Angus & Oppenheim 2004), the focus of most research has been on the types and structure of brand names, with some studies focusing on this cultural and linguistic diversity.
The aim of my research is: Define the types of marketing blunders, analyse them from a linguistic point of view, establish a connection between the types of brand names and blunders, as well as identify nonverbal and extra-language factors causing marketing blunders.
I analysed some 130 instances of marketing blunders, taken from a variety of European languages, as well as Chinese and Japanese. These research methods were used: Discourse analysis, lexical-semantic analysis, stylistic analysis, and quantitative analysis of the data.
Preliminary results of the research indicate that most instances of marketing blunders lie in homonymy (e.g., the company or brand name sounds similar or identical to a literary or slang word in another language), and are caused by lack of knowledge of phonetic, semantic, grammatical and pragmatic peculiarities of a foreign (or native) language. Moreover, many marketing blunders are caused by the lack of knowledge of the target linguistic culture (e.g., its history, values, traditions, beliefs, and mythology).

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