Monday, June 30, 2008

Fun with Branding: Home Depot vs. Al-Qaeda

The following posting is intended for satirical purposes only and is based upon an coincidence of linguistics and marketing. No relationship between Home Depot and Al-Qaeda is suggested.

Back when I took Arabic language courses at UGA in pursuit of my masters thesis, a casual conversation with one of the Arabic program's professors strayed from issues of political and religious import toward matters of international marketing. Namely, the unfortunate linguistic foibles that Nike and Coke once experienced when marketing in the Middle East. But in discussing the potential fortunes and failures future marketers might experience in the region, we struck upon a most troubling linguistic coincidence:

"The Home Depot," he informed me, translated into Arabic, is pronounced Al-Qaeda (القاعدة). We're not making this up. Al-Qaeda literally means "Home Base." And without a more appropriate translation for the word "depot," Al-Qaeda suddenly becomes more than just a threat to the free world ... it's also America's number one Do-It-Yourself warehouse!

In fairness to the Atlanta-based do-it-yourself warehouse, most Western companies transliterate their names when operating in foreign countries rather than translate their names into the local tongue. But such an unfortunate translation might hinder Home Depot's prospects if they attempt to break into the booming Gulf coast markets.

So next time you hear someone say they're headed out to the Riyadh Home Depot for light bulbs, call Homeland Security (202.282.8000), duct tape the windows, and relish in stereotypes. The marketing just about writes itself. FB


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