back to article For every disastrous rebrand, there is an IT person trying to steer away from the precipice

This Monday's Who, Me? is a reminder that for every ludicrous bit of company branding, there is always somebody behind the scenes yelling "No!" Our story, from a reader Regomised as "Will", concerns an unfortunately named service from much-missed computer company Wang. It was back in the 1980s, when Wang was enjoying success …

  1. Rudy

    A former Wanger here too. For the launch of Wang Cares, Wang Ireland took delivery of a brochure and some baseball caps, to be sent to all customers during the launch week. I still have my "Wang Cares" cap somewhere.

    And the title of the launch week? Why, "Wang Cares Awareness Week", of course!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's Wangernum. Let's rotate the board.

  2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    But ......

    ...... Wayne Kerr is still going strong.

    One company I worked in had Wayne Kerr ATE and no one ever got tired of the jokes - except possibly the ATE engineers, but who cared because they were all.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But ......

      How incredibly fitting is it that waynekerrmusic.com is a christian rock band? Doesn't get much more waynektastic than that.

  3. Ian 7

    At least some Americans were aware of the implication - as anyone who knows Peggy Bundy's maiden name and home county might remember.... Married with Children was first broadcast back in 1987.

    1. I am the liquor Silver badge

      Anyone watching the re-runs of Buffy The Vampire Slayer on E4 recently will no doubt have noticed they had both a Wanker and a Wankum in the credits.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        You can certainly imagine why Mr Wanker might decide "I'm tired of everyone making fun of my name! I'm going to emigrate to the colonies, where a man can be proud to call himself a Wanker!"

      2. William Towle
        Angel

        (Buffy)

        Nod, I did and I did.

        I was looking forward to "Hush" in particular, where Buffy has to mime "can we kill them with stakes?"

        Call me a niche target market if you like but an opportunity to plot twist the punchline into shaking a fist full of coffee beans was missed.

    2. chuBb. Silver badge

      There is an episode of the simpsons where bart declares "Everybody knows the first/last (cant remember which) day of school is a total wank"

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        There's also an episode of the Simpson's when Homer, hearing Marge's suggestions for the bane of their first child, makes a point of considering how easily each name could be rhymed with something derogatory in the playground.

        Though Homer doesn't see any problem with 'Bart', he does at least deserve credit for following 'due process' - even if he doesn't follow it perfectly.

      2. gotes

        Also in reference to the fictional British sitcom "Do shut up":

        If they're not having a go with a bird, they're having a row with a wanker!

      3. joeydiggs

        a "wank", in addition to the obvious meaning, mainly refers to "easy" in the US and Canada. So Bart was saying the last day of school was very easy (because there will be no homework, tests etc.)

        Like a lot of words, kids and soccer moms can use the phrase because the meaning of wank has become benign, which sucks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Plenty of soccer moms also drop f-bombs, but that's not because "the meaning... has become benign". It's more that such poor behavior overall has become more common and acceptable.

    3. upsidedowncreature

      Nanu Nanu

      Mindy's landlord in Mork and Mindy was called Mr Wanker.

  4. GlenP Silver badge

    Oh yes...

    Ever spoken up, only to be slapped down and blamed when the wheels came off?

    Yes, and it effectively cost me my job (although I was happy to take a substantial redundancy package rather than resign).

    The American corporate I was working for had decided to implement Baan* globally at the same time as trying to re-engineer the European business units. I was specifically asked to check out whether the system could work in the way they wanted and told them categorically that no, it wouldn't, and nor would any other system. They wanted to run Europe as a single business unit with all accounting in Euros which simply wouldn't work in the UK without leaving them wide open to major issues. My advice was inevitably rejected right up until they were getting ready for launch when I was able to say, "I told you so!"

    I don't know what happened in the US but in Europe they went with SAP and all-but closed down the UK operation, turning it into a pure distribution operation for German manufactured tools.

    *That, of course, was their first mistake!

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Oh yes...

      A similar thing happened to me a long time ago. One of my clients asked me to develop an off-shoot of one of his packages and it was to work in a particular way. I did my damnedest to explain why it wouldn't work very well in practice but he was adamant he wanted it done his way. So I did it his way and he was surprised that it didn't work as he'd hoped. He then blamed me for not pushing him hard enough not to do it that way in the first place. Sometime you just can't win.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Oh yes...

        "So I did it his way and he was surprised that it didn't work as he'd hoped."

        IT's ultimate sanction - giving the user/customer exactly what they demanded.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Oh yes...

          Give 'em exactly what they ask for ... and then whack 'em over the head with large quantities of paper trail.

        2. Potemkine! Silver badge

          Re: Oh yes...

          On the other hand, a friend of mine was blamed by his boss for not having done what wasn't asked to him... Many people need a scapegoat, it avoids painful retrospection.

      2. Morrie Wyatt

        Re: Oh yes...

        Which is why you make sure to get it all down in writing and signed off by the customer before work commences.

        1. Rasslin ' in the mud

          Re: Oh yes...

          Government Contracting 101:

          A. Write the design specification exactly as requested/demanded.

          B. Charge DOUBLE for every contract change order.

          C. Retire

        2. Wim Ton
          FAIL

          Re: Oh yes...

          I remember a case where page 10 and page 40 of the specification (all signed off) said the exact opposite, 3 man-months of work difference. Discovering this did not benefit my career.

  5. Detective Emil

    I had more success …

    In the late 70's, I was in UK pre-sales support for a US semiconductor company that had a side-line in small business computers, and wanted to promote them using the strapline The Informer. I managed to convince the ad agency that The Sweeney had probably queered the pitch (although I would also have had to explain that phrase) as far as the image of informers was concerned.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: I had more success …

      The term "informer" has the same, exact set of meanings here in the US as it does in Blighty. And we had more than our fair share of bad cop shows that used it with the same monotonous regularity. I wonder why you Brits are more prone to take such terms out of context than us Yanks?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I had more success …

        Simple, we think rude thoughts before we think pure thoughts, also we get american tv so understand slang in both directions.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: I had more success …

          "also we get american tv so understand slang in both directions."

          Would it surprise you that likewise, us Yanks get British TV, and thus have a decent knowledge of British slang? I'll bet it would REALLY surprise you to learn that the BBC makes a hell of a lot of money selling advertising space on the Yank airwaves (That's right, Dr. Who with commercials on BBC America. Lovely, eh? Thank gawd/ess for MythTV.) ... and I'll bet further it would surprise you even more to learn that more Yanks have seen British programming than Brits.

          1. Claverhouse Silver badge

            Re: I had more success …

            They're welcome.

          2. Jon Smit
            Headmaster

            Re: I had more success …

            Outside of Benny Hill and Mr Bean, do Americans understand what they're watching?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: I had more success …

              Yes. We do. Despite you lot perverting the language with Frenchisms over the last couple centuries.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I had more success …

                Frenchisms are at their best when more-than-slightly perverted.

          3. MarkET

            Re: I had more success …

            In Austen a few years back I was asked which US state is Oxford?

            1. Daedalus Silver badge

              Re: I had more success …

              In Austen a few years back I was asked which US state is Oxford?

              It's in Mississippi, of course, home to the University thereof. Although TBH you can find an Oxford in lots of places in the USA.

              Were you "Lost in Austen", perchance?

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: I had more success …

              WTF were you doing in Austen? There is no there there.

          4. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: I had more success …

            > more Yanks have seen British programming than Brits.

            For that to be true it would only require roughly 1/5 of US citizens to have seen some British television ever. That's not a huge ask.

            However, it doesn't tell us anything about how much British slang terms have permeated the USA. That would require knowledge of what fraction of Americans have watched what type of British content and how regularly.

            Not sure how often Downton Abby, Dr Who or David Attenborough use the word 'wanker'. But for all I know, Gordan Ramsey might be a big hit West of the pond.

          5. Adelio Silver badge

            Re: I had more success …

            In the three weeks we visited the US of A 6 years agoe I think we spent about 5 mins watching TV.

            To be fare, that is about standard for almost everywhere we travel to. After all we are on Holiday.

            Nowadays we almost exclusivlely watch pre-recorded TV or programs that have no adverts (BBC) or sports on SKY (Footbvall on Sky only has averts before/after and at half time. F1 only before and after the race.

          6. Symon
            Trollface

            Re: I had more success …

            "Yanks get British TV"

            You don't even 'get' your own TV! ;-)

            "ABC entertainment president Tony Thomopoulos said that 'Police Squad!' was canceled because 'the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it,' "

            "Who are you, and how did you get in here?"

            "I'm a locksmith. And I'm a locksmith."

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: I had more success …

              Did you not read what Mr. Thomopoulos said? Paraphrasing "Nobody watches ABC programming". Make more sense now?

            2. uccsoundman

              Re: I had more success …

              "ABC entertainment president Tony Thomopoulos said that 'Police Squad!' was canceled because 'the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it,' "

              Actually the implication was that you had to THINK while you were watching to appreciate it. The LAST thing that American TV viewers want to do is think, and the last thing the networks want to put on is something that requires thinking. Ask the audience to think and they will immediately switch channels.

              There are exceptions of course, but the aggregate picture is sitting on the couch, blank stare, with drool coming from the mouth and a beer in hand. Since I know that most of the audience here is from the UK, the best picture I can draw of the average American TV viewer is the beer-swilling brother-in-law in the TV show "Keeping Up Appearances".

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I had more success …

                I'm an American who's the exact opposite. I like shows that actually engage my brain a bit, and can't stand the ridiculous slapstick and painfully-obvious dirty humor in most shows. Probably why I very rarely actually watch anything these days.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I had more success …

                  (Same AC)

                  Come to think of it, maybe it's the networks who don't want to think - "Eh, put enough sex and violence into the show and they'll watch. No need to bother with a plot." Same lack of thinking is probably what resulted in the endless series of sequels, prequels, and reboots we currently have, instead of original content.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I had more success …

                "The LAST thing that American TV viewers want to do is think"

                As opposed to "a woman singing hymns whilst men waved their penises (in full view) in tune" (copied from Friday's On Call comments)? Or, for that matter, most Monty Python. (Some of which I do like, but it definitely doesn't take much thought.)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

    About 10 years ago, our Internal Comms dept decided to push their new corporate brands to everyone with a snappy acronym. I can't remember what the words were, but I there are still mouse mats kicking about with "FFS" all over them

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

      I remember working on an update to an aircraft loading system which had been running for years apparently without anyone noticing that the adjacent Fuel and CheckedBags column headers were abbreviated to save space (80-character screen) and so read FU CK

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

        Accident or intent?

        1. Anon

          Re: Accident or intent?

          ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ CK FU knows?

    2. ARGO

      Re: UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

      There are a lot of standards documents with sections marked FFS. It's supposed to mean "For Future Study". But it's usually something that's contentious and been kicked down the road, so I can quite see the standards chair meant the other thing...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

        - He's written we should do it ASAFP... what does the F stand for?

        - Feasibly, I presume.

    3. Drew Scriver

      Re: UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

      Over the the years I've come across quite a few issues with names. Here are a few gems:

      1)

      A car manufacturer that wanted to introduce their S5-model in the Netherlands. I was part of the market research team that had been hired. My supervisor told me the project was going to run for several weeks. I predicted it would be abandoned within a few days. S5 is the Dutch military designation for failure to pass the intelligence test...

      2)

      The Project Management Team at a company I worked for jumped on the bandwagon to call everything "Services". So, PMT naturally became "PMS". A gal in the neighboring cubicle pod worked for this team, and we could never keep a straight face when she answered the phone. "Good morning, PMS, this is Susie."

      3)

      Another team decided to run a campaign called "No More Lies". It had to be catchy, of course, so they settled on "No Moo Lies". With the domain name "nomoolies.com". Fortunately they dropped that when I pointed out that "moolies" is a derogatory slang term.

      4)

      Just this year a school district in the US created a new website for their online school. The county name starts with an "H", so add "Online School" and you get "hos"... They did in fact use the subdomain "hos.schooldistrictname.org". A quick online search would have immediately revealed that "hos" is not exactly an appropriate term. Radio talk show hosts have lost their jobs over the use of it...

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

        Not like this then. Oh dear.

        http://www.monologues.co.uk/Comic_Songs/Wogglers_Mooly.htm

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

          Beat me to it, me deary-o.

          Anyone up for "What Shall We Do With A Drunken Nurker"?

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

        PMT and PMS are synonyms. Tension vs syndrome. Look it up.

        I've never heard the word moolie in use anywhere. Where's it from? Where is it used? What does it mean?

        Simply pronounce it "hoss". Sorted, pardner.

      3. someone_stole_my_username

        Re: UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

        "S5 is the Dutch military designation for failure to pass the intelligence test"

        No, that would be I5. I for Intelligence.

        S means (emotional) Stability.

        And since long before I entered the military in the early 90s, S5 had such a stigma that it was never awarded, making S4 the de facto "maximum" score (range 1 to 5, lower is better).

    4. Fr. Ted Crilly

      Re: UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

      Intertrode was it?

    5. David Jackson 1

      Re: UK Crayon Departments are just as bad

      Ferrovie Federali Svizzere? That the first thing I though of (as in SBB-CFF-FFS).

  7. Bendacious

    Working for a mainframe software company I am often confronted by the word Dump, used without even a smirk. It's perfect sensible, that's what happens when a mainframe program gets too full of crap, it produces a dump. Sadly no one managed to convince the owner not to choose a product name featuring that word. It's Marketing I feel sorry for (which is something I have never said before) when they always lose first place on Google to the urban dictionary.

  8. Sequin

    They used to have an office in Germany - if you called it they answered by offering this advice - "Wang Cologne"

    1. BeefEater

      So they always answered the phone in English?

      Wang Köln doesn't see to sound quite the same.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Coat

        Indeed..

        Sounds very self serving to me....

        Mines the one with the map with directions to Upper Ramsbottom...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Everybody have fun tonight

        Everybody Wang Köln tonight

  9. UK Jim

    It's not just our business

    The Vauxhall Nova did not sell well in Spanish speaking countries.

    And the MR2 (m r deux) was seen as sh*tty in France.

    1. Sequin

      Re: It's not just our business

      Foden trucks are sold in Portuguese speaking countries as "Poden"

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: It's not just our business

        Mitsubishi's Pajero was renamed Montero in Spain (wouldn't you proudly drive your Mitsubishi 'Wanker'?)

        Hyundai's Kona was renamed Kauai in Portugal (who knew that driving a 'Kunt' could be embarrassing for some?)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's not just our business

          The Ford Escort sold just fine in the UK.

          1. ICPurvis47
            FAIL

            Car naming, was: It's not just our business

            "The Ford Escort sold just fine in the UK"

            ...where it was always referred to as the "Scrote". Ford had a penchant for issuing corruptible names, such as the Concertina, Transhit, Grandma, and others that I can't put my finger on just now. Of course, Ford weren't alone, how about the Hillman Pimple?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Car naming, was: It's not just our business

              And ones that didn't need corrupting. "Ford Probe", anyone?

              1. Symon
                Happy

                Re: Car naming, was: It's not just our business

                Don't forget the Crapi! I also remember a few people turning the 'M' upside down and dropping the 'e' on their Austin Montego badges...

          2. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

            Re: It's not just our business

            only for hitchhiking

          3. dvd

            Re: It's not just our business

            After the release of the "Ford Escort" and "Ford Fiesta" I was looking forward to the release of the "Ford Reader's Wives" but Ford sadly abandoned their policy of naming their cars after British Wank mags.

            1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

              Re: It's not just our business

              There's an old joke about a man who hired an 18 year old escort for the evening. He was apparently somewhat disappointed when a rusty car turned up.

        2. JeffB

          Re: It's not just our business

          The Hyundai Kona just reminds me of a coffee maker...

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: It's not just our business

      The Nova brand name has no issues in Spanish speaking countries. See Snopes take on it here

      I have no idea if the MR2 story is a similar myth, but it wouldn't surprise me.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: It's not just our business

        The Snopes article itself has a couple of issues in left-pond English: 'dinette set' is meaningless - or at least its meaning has to be reverse engineered and 'an English speaker would describe a broken-down car by saying that it “doesn’t run” rather than it “doesn’t go,”'. The latter might be true of an American speaker but but hereabouts "doesn't go" would be the norm.

        Tricky stuff, language.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: It's not just our business

          The estate agent who sold me the first house I owned in England was all excited to show me the newly remodeled kitchen, complete with breakfast nook & built-in dinette set ... It was written that way in their advertising, too. Ugly piece of shit; at least a dozen naugas must have died to upholster it. Was the first thing I ripped out.

          Doesn't go, doesn't run, knackered, fucked ... Your friendly neighborhood mechanic will understand regardless, so who's quibbling?

      2. Bowlers

        Re: It's not just our business

        I moved from Malta to Cyprus in the early 70s. While waiting for may car to be shipped over I was speculating what my Registration Plate might be. There were a number of plates in the FT xxx range so I was hoping for FU 2......missed by a few.

    3. PerlyKing Silver badge
      Go

      Re: It's not just our business

      Rumour has it that FIAT planned to market the Tipo with a turbodiesel engine as the "Tipo TurD" until they were advised otherwise.

    4. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
      FAIL

      Re: It's not just our business

      again in France, what did Audi think with the name "e-Tron" ???

    5. NorthernCoder
      FAIL

      Re: It's not just our business

      Copied from the Wiki article for Honda Jazz / Fit:

      "Honda had planned to use the name Fitta, and was released in Japan under that name in 2001.[165] Because Fitta in Scandinavian languages is slang for vagina, Honda instead used Jazz in most markets and Fit in the Americas.[166][167][168][169][170]"

      1. Imhotep Silver badge

        Re: It's not just our business

        Jazz has its own original meaning that is pretty much forgotten these days.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: It's not just our business

          Jazz as a word is only related to Jism as Humans are related to Bonobos ... we had a common ancestor, but one is not descended from the other.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: It's not just our business

          Clearly they took over the Ford method of naming cars after "adult" magazines such as Escort and Fiesta.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: It's not just our business

            I've heard this on and off over the years, and it never sounded quite right to me ... so I finally looked it up. Turns out that it's only half plausible (that is to say, not at all). Ford's "Escort" brand name debuted in 1955, and the magazine about a quarter century later. Ford's "Fiesta" brand debuted in 1976, the magazine about a decade earlier.

            Note that I don't have a dog in this race, never having purchased any of them ... why bother when one can usually find one or another stuffed into a local hedgerow.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It's not just our business

              "why bother when one can usually find one or another stuffed into a local hedgerow."

              The magazines, I hope. The cars would be a bit rough on the hedges.

    6. NITS

      Re: It's not just our business

      I was told that the Japanese translation of MR.2 is "Nissan".

  10. jake Silver badge

    First of all ...

    ... the term "wanker" was very well known to most Yanks back then (and earlier). It came across the pond (oooh, matron!) with the GIs following one World War or another. We just didn't, and still don't, use it much.

    However, Dr. Wang made it very well known that any and all attempts to make his name into an object of locker-room humo(u)r were to be ignored. And they pretty much were, company wide. Sometimes with sub-optimal results.

    And now you know the rest of the story.

  11. chuBb. Silver badge

    Learning Mandarin

    When I was learning mandarin, it pleased me no end that the Chinese surname "Wang" translated as "King" (according to the instructor, some of the vocab we were taught was very incorrect...), unsurprisingly as I am still incredibly puerile that became my favourite character flash card...

  12. RockBurner

    "Ever spoken up, only to be slapped down and blamed when the wheels came off? "

    Standard practise at one company I spent far too long at. Was one of the main reasons I left.

  13. itzumee

    My university work placement was at Wang's manufacturing plant in Limerick, Ireland and because the Mr Wang's first name was An, he was known as The Wang, which makes perfect sense in that part of the world and would probably do so in Scotland too.

    1. l8gravely

      My Uni back in the 70s and 80s had a computer consortium across a bunch of local Unis to share resources which went by WACCC. And we had the Wangs for people to write papers on. We all used to go "WACCC off on the Wangs" from time to time...

    2. GrumpyKiwi

      I wonder where that all came from

      Ex-GF (from a very long time ago) youngest brother worked there too until it was closed down. When I visited him his house was full of all the latest and greatest in IT tech of the time with WANG logos slapped on everything. He said that when the place closed down everyone grabbed an empty shopping trolley and walked out with a full one.

  14. Notrodney

    Abbreviations

    In the software I work with we use Associated Products. We occasionally have to remind programmers and project managers that the correct abbreviation is Assoc Prod

    1. PerlyKing Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Abbreviations

      I started my professional life as an Anal(yst) Prog(rammer) :-)

      1. Ken Rennoldson

        Re: I

        I still remember the typo in the company advert for a new Anal/Prod to joint the team....

      2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Abbreviations

        As an aside, I was delighted when early in my employment I was promoted to the rank of "Principle Engineer" (I still have the letter, I think).

        As a mathematical logician, the idea of engineering principles does appeal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Abbreviations

      We have Business Services. I'm often commenting on some "BS code I was asked to look at".

    3. KBeee Bronze badge

      Re: Abbreviations

      I remember trying to find a place in Bermondsey once, and looking at a map seeing a place marked up as "Ass Biscuits". Unfortunately Associated Biscuits are no longer there.

  15. someone called ross

    Several years ago at my last company my CEO was flying out to France for meeting with the parent company. The day before he asked me to knock up some slides to explain what we were spending the money on and to justify spending more. So half an hour before his flight I emailed him the slides knowing what he'd not have time to read them before the meeting that afternoon.

    He then stood up and presented project GONADS, of course it was more subtle than that but the main boss (a really likeable French guy) had very good English and immediately got what it was, started laughing and then explained to the rest of the board.

    They thought it was so funny we got our cash and I wasn't sacked.

    1. BinkyTheHorse
      Headmaster

      I hate to be That Guy®, but you do realize that "gonad" comes from Ancient Greek, not English, and is therefore a bit more widespread than just the Anglosphere? Your ũberboss simply managed not to sleep through his biology lessons in school.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

        if it was more subtle than "gonads" (in French: gonades), perhaps it was "testes" (testicules)?

        1. BinkyTheHorse

          I assumed OP meant something like "NADS", or another abbreviation/purposeful corruption.

          (for the record, I did upvote the OP for, well, the gonads)

          1. someone called ross

            The title was something like Geographic Object Network...(can't remember the rest of it but I had to work hard to shoehorn it in).

            Fun times.

  16. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Happy

    Even without the phonetic soundalike..

    ..the name would have sounded like some kind of ridiculous insurance offered by your local urologist.

  17. Homeboy

    WAN you say it out loud...

    Back in the 1980s I worked for a large US hardware manufacturer (which alas no longer exists) whose newest Wide Area Network software update was named the "WAN Kit". The female tech specialist who briefed us on this wonder spent her entire update glowing slightly pink.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: WAN you say it out loud...

      Nowadays she could sue for sexual harassment.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: WAN you say it out loud...

        Nowadays she could sue for sexual harassment if you take a lunch break.

  18. chivo243 Silver badge
    Terminator

    Ever spoken up, only to be slapped down

    Yes, regularly... I think it's in my job description, and I wear it proudly!

  19. Ken Rennoldson

    Of course there was the Pick operating system developed by Dick Pick. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pick_operating_system

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Oh the fun....

      You neglected to mention that the system was originally called Generalized Information Retrieval Language System...

      Pretty sure both would get a write up by HR for using either of those in general conversation...

  20. This is not a drill

    Lest we forget

    In the UK the name of the outgoing US president is euphemism for the bodily emission of noxious gasses...I can't think of anybody so perfectly named.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lest we forget

      In the UK the surname "Johnson" is slang for penis. The surname "Bush" is slang for female genitalia. Hasn't harmed politicians much. Half the country seems to have been at Uni with a "Richard Head" whenever silly names come up in conversation. "Dick" and "Willy" are normal first names (although a lot less common now than earlier generations).

      And anyone who has had to read "Swallows and Amazons" to young relatives as a bedtime book will know about the old short-form of Letitia.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Lest we forget

        Hey - leave Swallows and Amazons alone!

        I discovered it, over here in the US, in my school library, and my kids loved it. Getting the complete set of books was a bit of a job, but thanks to The Internet (and used bookstores) I managed.

        And since the first part of your post referenced two well known (if not well-liked) US politicians, I'll close with the rhyming couplet that was popular among us teens in 1972 (we were clever back then):

        "You wouldn't change Dicks in the middle of a screw, stick with Nixon in seventy-two"

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Lest we forget

          I've got a graffiti book (in hardback no less) which gave an opposing view thus:

          "Dick Nixon before Nixon dicks you"

      2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Lest we forget

        Titty wasn't a shortened form of Leticia. She was a Mavis, iirc. It was just a nickname.

        I used to know one of the Altounyan grandchildren; she wasn't impressed that I was mainly interested in her because she had the right to go to the Arthur Ransome museum and take Swallow out for a sail :)

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: Lest we forget

        "In the UK the surname "Johnson" is slang for penis. The surname "Bush" is slang for female genitalia."

        Same in the US.

      4. NITS

        Re: Lest we forget

        A friend attended high school with a fellow whose parents named him Richard Puller.

      5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        "bush"

        Mainly refers to pubic hair, as far as I've known. It's important (sometimes) to be specific.

        Could also be growing out of a person's shoulder, but only if that is specifically said.

    2. 080

      Re: Lest we forget

      Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert Dibble and Grub

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: Lest we forget

      The term "trump" is used that way in parts of the US also.

  21. 0laf Silver badge
    FAIL

    Remember OGC?

    Remember the OGC logo they spent 'a lot' of money on, rotated it looked just like a graphical onanist.

    https://www.theregister.com/2008/04/22/ogc_logo/

    A mate of mine worked for a Dutch oil company, "Dong Energy". Dong is still around and standing proud with their name.

    It cracked me up.

    1. BenDwire
      Pint

      Re: Remember OGC?

      DONG was originally short for Danish Oil and Natural Gas. They rebranded to Ørsted in 2017, using green energy as an excuse.

      I used to see them at many of the large international industrial exhibitions my company used to attend, and got a range of their promo materials over the years. Anything seemed funny after 4 days standing up in a business suit.

      Beer icon, because that's what helped most of us get through the week.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Remember OGC?

        Great idea to use non-ASCII characters in a brand name. Can't see that causing any trouble anywhere.

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Remember OGC?

      Dong is still around and standing proud with their name.

      Nope, they changed their name to Ørsted in 2017.

      Dong was an acronym of Dansk Olie og Naturgas which also works in English translation (Danish Oil and Natural Gas).

      Edit: damn, beaten by BenDwire.

      1. 0laf Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Remember OGC?

        I'm a bit sad now. The world was a better place with a big Dong in it.

  22. Peter Galbavy

    Served my inter year at Unisys in Uxbridge a couple of years after the Sperry/Burroughs merger and they rebadged a variety of UNIX mini systems. One was originally called the Arete (accents optional) and as I didn't speak any French the staffers had to explain to me why the source company had to change the model name once they started selling internationally. Memory is a little hazy.

    Ah, found a reference to "Arete Systems Corp" from that era: https://www.cbronline.com/news/unix_banns_plexus_arete_agree_a_merger/

  23. The Reverend
    Angel

    Names going over their heads

    There's a large UK business that I created reports for a while back (Still in use today as far as I'm aware) where the main routine was FOAD: Focus On Availability (Daily). Funnily enough the custom error routine also shared the same initials

  24. IJD

    I was told by a member of the Royce family (a fellow engineer) that the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow was originally going to be called the Silver Mist, and it was only days before its launch that somebody who spoke German pointed out the problem with this. All the ready-printed publicity material and the badges on the show cars had to be redone, just in time...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TNA

    Working for the UK part of a US organisation, in training, we used to do Training Needs Analysis (TNA), the US told us we couldn't use the abbreviation, TNA referring to parts of the female anatomy.

    We also had a Sales & Marketing department, I also remember the S&M cafe near Liverpool station was quite disappointed when it turned out to be Sausage and Mash.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TNA

      There used to be a S&M Supply company here.

      Somewhere I've got a picture of the building with a girl I'd been flogging standing in front of it.

      (I was sad when they tore it down, it was a popular photo spot for the local BDSM community.)

  26. cheb

    I selected my current van as the last three registration plate letters are GTF.

  27. Sparkus Bronze badge

    It's happening right now, actually....

    eight months of system maintenance and updates deferred because of "the virus" all need to be accomplished in the next three weeks.

    By a staff that has been reduced to 80% because of hiring freezes, and who must work remotely because in-office team meetings are banned.

    I suspect that my customer is not alone in this regard. 1Q and 2Q 2021 will be very interesting in terms of systems failures, etc.

    1. knottedhandkerchief

      Re: It's happening right now, actually....

      And if it succeeds it will become the new normal.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was always 'Wang-with-a-k' for me...

    1. Jim_E

      The model K in our office. An evil thing, the engineers needed their own coffee cups in our tea room.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Model K? Not evil at all.

        Nice car, for it's era. Inline six with quite a bit of torque. I'm looking for one in restorable condition.

        What's wrong with having my own coffee cup?

  29. chivo243 Silver badge

    How about branding in general

    Like General Motors big gaffe in Spanish speaking countries... Yes, the Brilliant 1962 Nova! My Spanish teacher had a field day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about branding in general

      <sigh>

      https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/chevrolet-nova-name-spanish/

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Like General Motors big gaffe in Spanish speaking countries... Yes, the Brilliant 1962 Nova! My Spanish teacher had a field day.

    It's okay - no one expects you to read the comments before commenting.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Pint

      Especially when there are lots and lots, and some are community members who may actually know each

      other chatting away, I tend to skip over those threads and risk missing seeing a comment I might make. And after scanning the comments I see no mention of General Motors, or Chevy Nova, which my Spanish teacher from a spanish speaking country spoke about. Vauxhall? Is that an outlet store for GM? Like VauxMall?

      anyway AC, have one...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "And after scanning the comments I see no mention of General Motors, or Chevy Nova,"

        Jake: The Nova brand name has no issues in Spanish speaking countries. See Snopes take on it here

        In reply to UK Jim: The Vauxhall Nova did not sell well in Spanish speaking countries.

        I assume you're trying to argue that the Chevy Nova and the Vauxhall Nova wouldn't have had the same potential linguistic issues?

  31. albertfandango

    Try using a hyphen in your domain name next time

    Working in the line-of-approval for internal domain names for more than a few years brought a number of "you really didn't read that properly before submitting the application, did you?" requests. Two stick in the memory (domain suffix removed to protect the innocent)

    historyofart.thing

    campusexchange.thing

    1. Sparkus Bronze badge

      Re: Try using a hyphen in your domain name next time

      Or the infamous web site for the Pen Island group.........

  32. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    On a serious note

    The people who spoke up about the fire resistance, or lack of it, of the cladding on Grenfell Tower were slapped down, and 72 people died and many more injured:

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/nov/30/kingspan-manager-belligerent-over-fire-concerns-in-2008-grenfell-inquiry-hears

    The article makes rather sickening reading, including:

    "A senior executive at Kingspan, which made combustible insulation used on Grenfell Tower, said a builder who questioned its product’s fire safety should “go f*ck themselves”, the public inquiry into the fire has heard."

  33. bigtreeman

    John Thomas

    I had a manager called John Thomas

  34. Wing commander

    "Contract Logistics Information Technology" Team

    Yes, we had to talk our our German colleagues off the ledge for this one!!!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Growing up around British ex-pats, the one word that freaked me and my friends out was WANKER. It sounds so unwholesome, so like a regular four-letter expletive. It was, and is just simply too strange and too vulgar for North American vernacular.

  36. VicMortimer
    Trollface

    Ok, I've got to try this place once the pandemic is over:

    Brother Z's Wang Shack

    1407 Dickerson Pk

    Nashville, TN

    https://www.facebook.com/Brother-Zs-Wangs-116203635074436/

  37. David Roberts Silver badge

    One Per Desk?

    Also branded as Tonto for some stupid reason.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: One Per Desk?

      That was the Merlin Tonto, a rebadged ICL OPD (One Per Desk). Basically a Sinclare QL (big brother of your favorite Speccy), without the 8049 peripheral controller but with a POTS communications system grafted onto it. They were built by ICL, and sold by BT. In Oz it was known as the Telecom Australia Computerphone.

      The name Merlin seems to have come from the same place as BT's Merlin M4000 line (rebadged Logica VTS-2300 Kennet), although they are in no way related hardware wise. No relation at all to the contemporary AT&T Merlin systems.

      Tonto was short for "The Outstanding New Telecoms Opportunity".

      All the above was early/mid 1980s.

      Note that this has nothing to with the mid-1970s TONTO, The Original New Timbral Orchestra, which is an entirely different subject, and some would say much more interesting.

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