Jon’s two best brand disasters

egg mascot

It’s pronounced Foo-Koo-Pee – you were all thinking that right?

Brands are very sensitive. They don’t like to be tarnished, misrepresented or made to look stupid. They worry about their reputation as much as most kids do when puberty is only half finished. And just like a high school student, brands desperately need people to like them. They depend on it.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s not funny when things go wrong.

For Japanese Refrigerator company, Fukushima, their new mascot certainly did go a bit wrong. No amount of pronunciation guidance will help the situation. That says Fukuppy and you can’t hide from it.

I don’t normally tend to find swearing very funny but accidental swearing is great. There’s absolutely no malice there – just an egg with wings that the guardian tells me ‘loves justice’.

If you can read Japanese here’s an explanation of how it got its name. If you can’t, you’ll just have to believe me when I say that ‘Fuku’ means something like ‘good fortune’ in Japanese and that is then crossed with the English word ‘happy’. That’s how Fukuppys are made, folks.

They’ve now changed it back to the Japanese version of the name which you can see in its current form. But that didn’t stop it first getting coverage in the Guardian and the Independent. That’s how I found out about it.

I saw the egg/angel and knew that it was a best thing. Maybe it’s the best thing.

My second and final best brand disaster is short and simple. But first you need some form of introduction.

Imagine the scene:

You and your team are doing some PR for Susan Boyle. You want to use twitter to promote a party that will celebrate her next album. You need a catchy hashtag that will help to promote the event. You want it to catch on. After a quick five minute debate, you settle for the following:


This went live and everyone in the world added an apostrophe after the ‘U’. Later, it was changed to #SusanBoylesAlbumParty but the damage had been done. The telegraph have an informative article about it if you need it. That hashtag is still kicking around twitter as well – it really has longevity.

The truth is I think brand disasters should happen more often. It’s funny when people say things without fear or too much thinking. It leads to all the best ideas. Su’s Bum Party and Fukuppy are best things because they show me that not everything is perfect. There’s still room in this PR-filtered world for a few mistakes.

And that’s all I have to say about that.