30 June 2009

The N Word

2122.In what is being hailed as an EPIC BRAND FAIL, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Russian petroleum combine, Gazprom have partnered to monetize Nigeria's (apparently) still-amazing petroleum reserves.

Regardless of what you think of Nigeria, Russia, corporate monoliths, or petroleum, this is a canny move from all sides. Ideally, the Russians will Get Paid™, Nigeria will get petroleum reserves further developed and also Get Paid™. Win-win.

But if you were putting together a combine such as this, what would you call it? Would you take the first syllable of "Nigeria" and the first syllable of "Gazprom" and make a new word out of it? No? That would make you a laughing stock and leave a lot of people scratching their heads, yes? Talk about a tin ear. And Twitter users worldwide laughing at you,  yes?

That is, amazingly what they actually did. The Partnership of NNPC and GAZPROM are to be called

NIGAZ, which sounds similar to a word that a lot of english-speakers consider to be derogatory and offensive, is now being spread across the web as a memorable PR blunder. Users on Twitter are reported to have first highlighted the negative connotations of the word "Nigaz".

Although the origin of the name is obvious-- from the words "Nigeria" and "gaz" -- the word when written down has different connotations to English-speakers.

People are still wondering why the Nigerian govenment would allow such an offensive word to be used and also speculate that the Russians allowed or ignored it because the offensive word is still widely used in Russia.

Oh, my.

This reminds me of that time that Google launched Gmail without finding out that a British financial firm already had the name which is something they could have found out with … well … a web search.

No, we aren't making it up: here's the BBC (as pointed to by Slate) on it.

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