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What’s in a name?

Optimize Blog - May 27, 2010 - 0 comments

What does a traumatized young female Parisian and the Renault car company have in common? The name Zoe of course….
Mademoiselle Zoe Renault (no relation) is taking legal action to prevent the car company Renault naming their new all electric car ‘Zoe’ (zero emissions) as she simply cannot face the thought of being teased the rest of her life because of the connotation with this new model due for launch in 2012. We can hear the taunts now – “Zoe needs a tune up” or “Zoe’s broken down” – we’re sure you can think of a few more.
Now the name Zoe comes from the Greek word meaning ‘life’ but both Zoe Renault and a number of other Zoe’s in Europe are determined that the new car name is not going to ruin their lives. Apparently there is even a lawyer who specializes in the protection of first names….
Renault has stated that the name has not yet been finally decided but it is not unusual to name a car after a woman’s name and of course this got us thinking about other ‘poor choices’ when it comes to naming cars. The VW Sharan was a bit of a disaster in Britain with people quick to make the link to Sharon rather than the desert wind from which VW’s marketing department took their cue.
The Toyota Fiera was another favourite where in Puerto Rico ‘Fiera’ means ‘ugly old woman’. Not forgetting the S Cargo from Nissan (went well in France apparently although sales were ‘slow’ elsewhere) or the ‘Charade’ from Daihatsu – was it all just pretend? The AMC Gremlin clearly provided a clue on reliability and those buying the Mitsubishi Mirage weren’t quite sure what they got – if anything.
But probably the most famous faux pas for car names was the ubiquitous Chevrolet Nova which didn’t sell well in Spanish speaking countries because of course “No va” means “doesn’t go” in Spanish……perhaps a bit of an urban myth that one but nevertheless it makes a good story.

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