Wally. Moody. Poncin. What does your boat's brand name say about you?
What’s in a name? Plenty – sometimes more than the manufacturer ever bargained for. Some of the biggest marketing pratfalls in history relate to products names or slogans that meant something quite different in another language.
Take the American food producer that launched the homely sounding Frank Perdue’s chicken with the slogan ‘It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken.’ Fair enough, except that it when it was translated into Spanish it read: ‘It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.’
There have been many other high profile international marketing disasters. The US Diary Association’s snappy ‘Got milk?’ sounded quite personal in Mexico, where it meant ‘Are you lactating?’
There must have been even more incomprehensible look when Pepsi launched a campaign featuring their joyful ‘Come Alive with the Pepsi Generation’ in China, where it promised ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave’.
The car world is full of misconceived names. The Americans seem to specialise in strange or uncomfortable words – for example, the Chrysler Dictator or the Ford Probe – but the Japanese quickly caught up. Mitsubishi made the Pajero, which means wanker in some Spanish speaking countries. Isuzu turned out a utility truck they called the Light Dump.
When choosing a name for their latest model, boat manufacturers plump for an original name with a dash of pizzazz. Presumably that’s how they came up with the Carter Concubine and the memorable (name, if not boat) Wee Willie Winkie.
Money and style made the daft sounding Wally yachts objects of desire despite the ridiculous name. I’m not sure the same could be said for the Midget range or the Dutch-built Scheepswerf Kok. Or, for that matter, the Poncin range.
Moody, named after family owners, always sounded odd. So does the Feeling range. Does an owner speak of having a small Feeling, or a secondhand Feeling? Should one mention one’s hankering for a Sunbeam?
The trend for naming boats to make them sound a lot bigger began about the same period – a standout example was the Trapper 500, which despite its swanky title was only 28ft. This continues today. The numbers of models are only ever a guideline as some manufacturers round them up and others go for a little reduction.
In the 1970s new boat names included the Amel Mango and Albin Scampi. It’s amazing that we got away without a Beneteau Marie Rose or a Westerly Tartare.
Nothing is too preposterous. Cantieri created a Koala. A few years ago we reviewed the Banana 43. Seriously. It was a catamaran – banana split, geddit?
To denote a slightly racier design, style and approach, the wacky name has come into vogue. The Wally range is a prominent example, but there’s been a Blink and various Pogos.
Cruising boat manufacturers, meanwhile, tend to go in for wishful thinking. Think of the Discovery (going where Franklin went?), the Fantasi (best watch the DVD), the Sun Odyssey (crew like Greek gods) and the Legend (wags persist in pronouncing this with a hard g).
Mind you, these are but a few of many examples. What does your boat say about you?