The future's not so bright as Orange gets the red light in Ulster

Orange, Britain's third largest mobile phone operator, is thinking about changing the name of its digital service in Northern Ireland after a week of sectarian violence in the province.

"We are taking advice about actively marketing our brand name in Northern Ireland," a spokeswoman for Orange confirmed yesterday. "I accept that we need to look to see if there is any sensitivity."

Orange is already in the process of acquiring base-station sites in and around the Belfast area and hopes "go live" in the province within a year. It is keen to tap into a captive audience of 1.5 million, 40 per cent of whom belong to the Catholic/nationalist tradition. But wooing them is going to prove an uphill struggle.

"Imagine the uproar it would cause if they ran a campaign there using their current slogan 'The future's bright, the future's Orange'," Gordon MacMillan of Campaign, the advertising industry bible, said. "They are going to have to seriously consider a sub-brand to get round the problem with the political situation so fraught and volatile."

Orange is not alone in having major marketing problems. Indeed, its teething troubles in Northern Ireland are a reminder of how the image of leading brands can quickly be overtaken by events.

Perhaps the most famous example was of a biscuit bar esigned to stifle appetite as part of a slimmers' diet. It was sold in the early Eighties under the unfortunate brand name Ayds - until the arrival of the disease Aids.

The Anglo-American drugs giant SmithKline Beecham ran into similar problems over its best-selling fizzy drink which bore the legend "Lucozade aids recovery". The company argues that the label was dropped long before before Aids became a major public health issue.

Instances of brand names failing to cross the language barrier are also legion, although the humour they elicit is often of the lavatorial variety.

Cars seem particularly prone to marketing faux pas. Rolls-Royce realised before it sold its Silver Mist range in Germany that "mist" translated as "excrement". But Ford's launch of the Pinto car in Brazil failed - "Pinto" is Brazilian slang for "tiny male genitals". Ford wisely substituted nameplates with "Corcel", which means "horse". Vauxhall ran into similar difficulties with its Nova range in Spain; "no va" means "won't go" in Spanish.

Chinese translations have also caused untold linguistic complications. The Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan "finger lickin' good" came out as "eat your finger off", while in Taiwan the exhortation to "Come alive with the Pepsi generation" ended up as "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead". And soft drinks rival Coca-Cola had to be renamed for sale in China after it translated as "Bite the wax tadpole".

Foreign firms can also have trouble with English names. There is a French soft drink called "Sic", crisps sold in Spain as "Bum" and a Finnish anti- freeze called "Super-Piss".

But perhaps the funniest faux pas belongs to Parker Pen. When a ballpoint pen was marketed in Mexico the advertisements were supposed to say "It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you". Alas, Parker thought the Spanish word "embarazar" had just one meaning: to embarrass. Instead, the advertisements read: "It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant".

Great advertising gaffes of our time

Ayds, Boots' slimming chocolate bar was renamed when the degenerative HIV disease became well known

The Rolls-Royce Silver Mist range had to be renamed for Germany because mist means 'excrement' in German

Now the Orange mobile telephone will have to change its marketing strategy in Ulster because of the Troubles

Suggested Topics
Voices
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond delivers his speech at the Scottish National Party (SNP) Spring Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland April 12, 2014.
voices
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as the troubled, melancholy Don Draper
tvAnd six other questions we hope Mad Men series seven will answer
Life & Style
The new low cost smartphone of Motorola, 'Motorola Moto G', is displayed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 13, 2013. The smartphone, with dimensions 65.9mm W x 129.9mm H x 6.0 - 11.6mm D is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with quad-core 1,2 GHz CPU, a 4.5-inch display and Android Operating System 4.3 and a suggested price of $ 179 USD.
techData assessing smartphones has revealed tens of millions of phones are at risk of being harvested
News
David Beckham is planning to build a stadium in Miami’s port for a new football team he will own
news... in his fight for a football stadium in Miami's port area
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
weird newsMan live-photographs cracking of mysterious locked box on Reddit
Sport
Oliver Giroud kisses the Arsenal badge after giving the Gunners the lead
sportArsenal 3 West Ham 1: Two goals from the German striker and one piece of brilliance from Giroud puts the Gunners back above Everton
News
Plans to decriminalise non-payment of television licence fees would cost the BBC £500m according to estimates drawn up within the Corporation
people
News
weird news
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
filmAs 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star James Dean perfected his moody act
News
Obesity surgery in rats has been found to change the way the body processes alcohol
news
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
artThe Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
Life & Style
US Airways has been at the centre of a Twitter storm after it responded to customer complaints with a graphic sexual image
techUS Airways takes an interesting approach to customer service
Arts & Entertainment
Philip Arditti as Yossarian and Christopher Price as Milo Minderbinder in Northern Stage's 'Catch-22'
theatre
Arts & Entertainment
The Purple Wedding: Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell tie the knot
TV The second episode of the hit series featured a surprise for viewers
Life & Style
Back to nature: women with body issues have found naked yoga sessions therapeutic
lifeDoing poses in the altogether is already big in the US, and now it’s landed here – in mixed classes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Move from Audit to Advisory

£45000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Move from Audit to Advisor...

Management Consultancy - Operational Research Analysts

£35000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: You must ...

Secondary Teaching Assistant

£60 - £70 per day: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This outstanding Secondary School...

Application Support Analyst (MS SQL, java based webserver, batch scripting)

£36000 - £40000 Per Annum On call allowance.: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?