Digital & Social Media

Fukushima’s Fukuppy Lesson

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What Happened: No, no one is cursing. It’s the unfortunate name of an androgynous cartoon egg that’s the new mascot for a refrigerator maker in Japan. The designation is apparently a combination of the first four letters of the manufacturer’s name—Fukushima Industries—and the end of the English word ‘happy.’ It—or at least its name—certainly has made a lot of folks on social channels chortle.

Amazingly, the name problem doesn’t end there as some people initially mistook the Osaka-based refrigerator company for the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which melted down during an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Had that been true, that might make the new mascot name profoundly ill considered, yet no less likely to make the 13-year-old in all of us snigger.

Fukushima has an entire backstory on its website about this perky, but “scatterbrained” little ovum who apparently is a food inspector of sorts and has a strong sense of justice. Still, despite Fukushima’s efforts on Fukuppy’s behalf, recent reports indicate that the company is considering starting a rebranding exercise to rename Fukuppy with something less inadvertently comical. The company also felt compelled to apologize, although it’s hard to see who exactly got hurt.

What This Means for Brands: Well the message here is obvious. When you’re about to do a major rebranding effort, there’s no detail too small to check, maybe sound check, to make sure you’re not about to [insert Japanese cartoon egg mascot name].

Contributing to TRENDING this week are Lucy Arnold, Jenna Carter, Sarah Gordon, Lisa Helfer, MaryFrances Hicks and Abby Ray. Edited by Pat Wechsler.