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Japan’s Fukushima Industries unveiled a new mascot named Fukuppy.


Finally, I know what I'm going as for Halloween.

Japan's Fukushima Industries unveiled a new mascot: a cartoon character designed to delight and amuse visitors, and revamp the company's image. They named him Fukuppy.

The refrigeration company, which isn't related to the Fukushima area hit by the nuclear disaster, has been appropriately ridiculed across the Internet for such a poor choice in name (which, the company says is a marriage of the company's first syllable, with the English word happy.)

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"People say I'm a little scatterbrained," the doe-eyed egg with wings and giant red feet tells visitors to the website – but clearly, he's not the only absentminded one.

His unfortunate name would be awful all by itself (would you want a Fukuppy fridge?) but with a company name linked to one of the worst atomic disasters in history, it's an unforgivable – if a little hilarious – error.

Understandably, the Osaka-based company has issued an apology that hopefully only sounds a little disingenuous because it also suffers from a poor translation: "The name of our corporate character, because of the way it's written, has been regarded as inappropriate, or has been misunderstood among English-speaking people."

This isn't the first time marketing campaigns have been unfortunately lost in translation: a look through this cautionary American Marketing Association article and all of a sudden, the Japanese blunder isn't looking like such a big fukuppy.

There is no shortage of unbelievable errors: the KFC slogan "finger lickin' good" was translated in Chinese campaigns to "eat your fingers off." A Coors slogan "Turn it Loose" means "suffer from diarrhea" in Spanish.

Nor is fukuppy the first time we're flabbergasted at poor taste of advertising bigwigs. Remember the jaw-dropping stupidity of this 9/11 golf course sale?

I can't decide if Fukuppy is too funny to be awful, or too awful to be funny – but either way, it's an exercise in lazy decision making.

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The worst of it all: The process involved in this little mascot's creation would have been intense – the creative approvals, staff meetings, corporate decisions involved in every little detail – and not a single person questioned the English translation.

The lesson, kids: Don't be a fukuppy, do your homework.

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More


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