Kraft says it chose the name to connote worldwide deliciousness. (Monde means “world” in French, and delez, with a long E in the final syllable, is a play on “delish.”) But pronounced “mohn-dah-LEEZ,” the name means something else to Russian speakers.
Apparantly the name sounds like the Russian slang term for an oral-sex act.
The offending term, manda, is on Wikipedia’s Russian profanity page.
“What they say is perfectly true,” confirmed Irwin Weil, professor of Russian language, literature and music at Northwestern University. “There is a rather vulgar word, ‘manda.’ [Mondelez] includes the sound of that word,” he said, adding that Kraft probably “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.
Kraft is just the latest company to run afoul of a marketing gaffe due to language blunders. “If you miss a national or cultural translation, you end up in this precise situation,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys.
Kraft has responded to the news by saying. “We did extensive due diligence in testing the name,” Kraft spokesman John Simley said. “That included two rounds of focus groups in 28 languages, including Russian. We determined misinterpretations in any of the languages to be low-risk.”