Kraft No Cunning Linguists In Russia When It Comes To New Snack Brand Name

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Mar 22, 2012 6:40PM

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PRNewsFoto/Kraft Foods

Kraft Foods' Wednesday announcement that it was changing its international corporate brand name to Mondelez International, Inc. has been received with appropriate amounts of analysis, head scratching and snark.

Mondelez—a portmanteau of the French word monde ("world") and Spanish word delez ("delish")—is supposed to "evoke the idea of 'delicious world.'"

What it's done is have people asking how to pronounce the new word, which is apparently "mohn-dah-LEEZ." But the term can be lost in translation in Russian. Crain's Chicago Business spoke with Irwin Weil, professor of Russian language, literature and music at Northwestern University, who noted the pronunciation of "Monde" has a completely different meaning in Cyrillic.

“There is a rather vulgar word, ‘manda.' (Mondelez) includes the sound of that word,” he said, adding that Kraft “had no idea when pronounced it means a Russian vulgar word.” The second half of the name roughly translates into the sex act, say Russian speakers.

The particular vulgar word Weil dances around is the one word no man should call a woman. With Kraft Foods making significant inroads in the Russian market, particularly among women, the possibility of your new global food brand being mistaken for "C U Next Tuesday" is an unfortunate faux pas, to say the least.

The Mondelez name is subject to a vote from Kraft's board of directors May 23. They've already reserved the stock market ticker symbol "MDLZ" and the web domain www.mondelez.com.