Last week, Target came under fire for describing the color of one maxi dress as "dark heather gray" while calling the plus-size version "manatee gray." This week, they're caught with another product-naming problem: Their Mossimo brand "Orina" sandals.
While the store initially believed the word "Orina" to mean "peace" or "peaceful" in Russian, about a week ago they found out that it actually means "urine" in Spanish. The company is now in the process of relabeling all of the $19-$22.99 shoes that are still on their shelves. (The sandals had been available at Target stores and at Target.com since February, though they're no longer online. Perhaps they should consider themselves lucky that the name refers to the style and not the color!)
While the name isn't that offensive in and of itself, it does point to a certain amount of cultural ignorance on the part of the retail giant. So far, customers seem more amused than outraged.
"I live for this kind of linguistic #fail," Tweeted Daniel Johnson Ederra, who goes by @SpanglishBrand.
"I can't stop laughing: Target To Rename 'Orina' Shoe After Learning It Means 'Urine' In Spanish," quipped Marce Gutiérrez.
There have been several other notable naming mistakes in recent retail history. The story about the Chevrolet Nova selling poorly in South America because the name means "doesn't go" in Spanish is an urban legend, but foreign languages lead to plenty of faux pas when companies open stores in other countries.
When IKEA launched a retail store in Thailand in 2012, they quickly discovered that their products' Swedish names meant something very different to Thai-speaking customers. (Their "Jättebra" planter, it turned out, was similar to a vulgar word for sex, the Wall Street Journal reported.) When you say the name of Microsoft's search engine, Bing, in some Chinese dialects, it sounds a lot like the word for either "illness" or "pancake," depending on where in the China you are.
Kraft Foods' named its global snack entity "Mondelez International" as a play on the words "world" (monde, in French) and "delicious." What they didn't know was that it also sounds a lot like slang for a certain sex act in Russia, Crain's reported.
When it comes to liking the sound of the word "Orina," though, Target isn't alone. Dolce Vita offers a line of cute, cutout oxford shoes with the same name. Still, Target spokesperson Jessica DeeDe told The Huffington Post: "Realizing this name could be misinterpreted, we are taking steps to remove the name from the sandal."
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