'Fukuppy' firm rethinking mascot after Internet ridicule

'Fukuppy' firm rethinking mascot after Internet ridicule

TOKYO —

Fukushima Industries said Tuesday it was rethinking its “Fukuppy” mascot, after the Internet erupted in sniggers over a name that recalls the catalogue of mishandling at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The Osaka-based refrigerator maker, whose name derives from its founder and has nothing to do with the area hit by an atomic catastrophe, has been ridiculed on social networking sites for the name it gave its egg-like mascot, which has blue wings and red feet.

“I’m Fukuppy. Nice to meet you,” the smiling character with a human face tells visitors to the company’s website. “I think I’m kind with a strong sense of justice but people say I’m a little bit scatterbrained.”

Fukushima Industries unveiled “Fukuppy” in April, blending the first part of the company name—Fuku—and the end of the English word “happy”, saying it represented the corporate philosophy of being a happiness-creating company.

But the striking moniker was mistaken for “an inappropriate word among people in English-speaking places or its meaning was misunderstood on the Internet,” the company said in a statement.

“We sincerely apologize for worrying many people and creating misunderstanding among them,” the company said, adding: “We will look into the name, including a rethink of it.”

The firm, which makes industrial cooling systems and has offices in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan, said the name was nothing to do with the battered Fukushima power station.

It is common for companies and organizations in Japan to have a cuddly mascot character that they use as part of branding. Many are brought to life by adults in full-size costumes who wander around sponsored events posing for photographs with children.

In September, Asahikawa Prison in Japan’s far north unveiled “Katakkuri-chan”, a nearly two-meter humanoid with a huge square face and an enormous purple flower for hair, which bosses hoped would soften the image of the jail.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police has had its own crime-fighting mascot since the 1980s who is now well-loved across the nation.

The use of English, or English-derived words, is also very common in Japan, where despite many years of compulsory language schooling, standards remain relatively low.

This leads to occasional hilarity among visitors to the country, who struggle to understand why someone would drink the unappetising-sounding Pocari Sweat or the off-putting Calpis.

Bizarre phrases born of poorly understood English lessons frequently make their way onto t-shirts, stationery and into advertising copy.

The mascot can be seen on the company’s website: http://www.fukusima.co.jp/

(C) 2013 AFP

  • 3

    Tamarama

    Noooooooo! Not the Flying Fukuppy!

  • 2

    ControlFreak

    I vote for a change to Fukupeeps!

  • 0

    Camman80

    That name is so wrong. What green lighted it?

  • 3

    combinibento

    You know what? Maybe a gaijin thought it up and suggested it, tongue in cheek. And they didn't get it, and instead, ran with it.

  • 5

    Ranger_Miffy2

    Please, Osaka Fuku Co., don't change a thing! This one is unforgettable and bound to be famous, although not in a good way.

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    As I was saying last night, the slightest amount of attention to the English language, or even asking someone who speaks it, and all of this could have been avoided. As it is, it's just Fukuppyd.

  • 0

    Nessie

    Easy there, folks, it's pronounced Foo-Koo-PEE. Oh...dear.

  • 2

    gaijinfo

    This name was likely thought up by the same dude who slipped all those pilot names in that one plane crash:

    "Wi Too Lo" etc.

  • 1

    Disillusioned

    Yeah, Nessie, the pronunciation is fine unless you are from north Britain, right? Seriously? Who was the fool that have it the go-ahead in the first place? Obviously, just another narrow-minded Japanese executive that forgets Japanese is not the only language in the world.

  • 0

    Maria

    They should have stuck with katakana shouldn't they, poor souls. Somebody will get stripped and beaten with a wet towel for this.

  • -8

    Serrano

    Like Nessie said, it's pronounced Foo-Koo-Pee, not Fack-Koo- Pee, geez, some people have dirty minds.

    ( I tried to spell Fack with a "u" instead of the "a" but got the "Your comment was not posted because it contains potentially offensive content" lol )

  • 1

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii

    Only in Japan.

  • 8

    gaijintraveller

    Actually, the name is brilliant. Someone should get a bonus. All publicity is good publicity. Who had even heard of Osaka Fuku before this?

  • 2

    StormR

    In September, Asahikawa Prison in Japan’s far north unveiled “Katakkuri-chan”, a nearly two-meter humanoid with a huge square face and an enormous purple flower for hair, which bosses hoped would soften the image of the jail.

    Why in hell would a jail want a cuddly mascot to soften its image.

    This place can be so childish sometimes.

    A more mature approach would work better.

  • 5

    papasmurfinjapan

    Well Fuku me..

  • 1

    Dennis Bauer

    Okay the name was not well chosen with the international market in mind, but a winged egg? Is there an assocation that i am not getting here?

  • 3

    papasmurfinjapan

    Is there an assocation that i am not getting here?

    I believe the Simpsons already holds the copyright for the three-eyed fish.

  • -1

    Kent Mcgraw

    This is my laugh for the day. Seriously someone needs to teach them that they pronounce the F like an H and the u like "oo". It would be Hookoopy. As it is written it is not pronounced in a flattering way. The companies should run it past a native speaker when trying to make it in English. This is just funny.

  • -1

    cadmium31680

    If a name is intended only for use within Japan, then I don't think it needs to be checked to see if it's funny or offensive in foreign languages. If it's intended to be used internationally, then definitely it should be checked with the major languages.

  • 0

    BPoint

    Just like the electronics shop Edion should have run their logo past an English speaker. That computer "on" button made out of the "O" looks like a stuck up middle finger. Everyone I say this to goes.....oh ya, it looks like a big F you...

  • 2

    Triumvere

    You know, after some consideration I think Fukuppy is the perfect mascot for TEPCO. If Fukushima industries doesn't want it anymore, they should donate it.

  • 0

    FightingViking

    Well at least it's getting plenty of attention ! I believe it is only for use in Japan so just leave it as is and give the gaijin something to laugh about (instead of our daily dose of TEPCOs ongoing fiasco).

  • 0

    Jimizo

    Let's hope there isn't another ballsuppy.

  • 0

    wildwest

    This article has merit. Now I am thinking about having cups made in Fukushima. But I cant decide on a name,

  • 0

    shanabelle

    There might be a rush on Fukuppy goods....collectors items in the future perhaps! I love the name!

  • 2

    sf2k

    Maybe if Japanese learned English as it really is, not what they think it is, then it wouldn't be the constant source of international ridicule. I had hoped that one day it would take language learning seriously but then this happens. Sigh

  • 5

    Weasel

    Hard to say it wasn't a cluster Fukuppy.

  • -2

    Patric Spohn

    Industrial cooling systems? Isn't that what they are trying to do, or already did, freeze the ground many meters to stop radiated water from flowing into the ocean? Probably the company is involved in helping efforts. And what's wrong with the name? I don't get it.

  • 4

    ChibaChick

    NOOOO!!!!! Dont change it!!!! Its already the most memorable of all the nonsense characters out there!

  • 0

    I hate foods

    How about the Red Skin Fukuppy! Must change the name. Lol. By the way, before Mr. Fukudome transferred to MLB, people talked about how the name of him would be funny in US. But in fact, people didn't care about it. Fukuppy should be all right as well; soon, people get used to the name and may even think it kinda funny and good naming. Moreover, the catchy name already has impacted many people here. That's a success!

  • 2

    Ex-Expat

    NOOOO!!!!!

    I echo that sentiment! I figured it was inevitable, but darn it, what a shame. I'm sure many people were ridiculing the mascot, but most of the reactions I witnessed were positive. Folks in the west were begging for plushies and car decals of him; there's quite a market. He was superimposed over politician's faces in some news articles. We love the guy!

    End the end, the company wants to sell industrial supplies to Japanese, rather than toys to foreigners. The market wins, again. kicks a rock

  • 1

    shanabelle

    The Fukuppy would be an awesome Olympic mascot....how forgetable are they usually?

  • 1

    Serrano

    Fukuppy is awesome.

  • 0

    ambrosia

    cadium31680: If a name is intended only for use within Japan, then I don't think it needs to be checked to see if it's funny or offensive in foreign languages. If it's intended to be used internationally, then definitely it should be checked with the major languages.

    That would be true if they were writing the name in kanji, hiragana or katakana but once they start using Roman letters they are fair game for mockery and really should check before hand. I'd be willing to bet you'd find it equally amusing or ridiculous if an American or British company used kanji just for the heck of it and got it all wrong, even if the use was never intended to be anywhere but within either country. That said, they could definitely use the ridicule to their benefit if they market it right and don't have thin skin.

  • 6

    The Chronic

    Reminds me of the name and slogan of a Love Hotel I saw once. It's called: The Little Pussy Hotel, (with picture of a little kitten)The slogan below reads: Come on my House.

  • 0

    Kurobune

    I would certainly think so.

  • 0

    gonemad

    Great advertisement. Who would know that company without this 'accident'? BTW, how did the Japanese ever come up with the idea that anything which ends with 'y' in English must be a long 'イー' in katakana?

  • -1

    Thunderbird2

    Yeah, Nessie, the pronunciation is fine unless you are from north Britain, right?

    Disillusioned - what's that meant to mean? I'm from Scotland (i.e. north Britain) but I don't get your point about the pronunciation...

    BOT and am I correct in assuming that people here think all Japanese companies should be aware of what things are called because westerners might find it funny? Well it happens with product names from America too - we in Britain don't call a fanny-pack that, as it's rude... we call them bum-bags. Don't know why it's rude? Google 'fanny' in relation to UK vulgar slang.

  • 0

    Ian Robertson

    Never heard of this company til now, but their slogan and mascot did make me smile, although for all the wrong reasons.

  • 0

    Sensato

    The company name of this hitherto obscure refrigerator company "Fukushima Industries" is now more widely known globally than anyone would ever in a million years have thought possible — all thanks to this unintentionally hilarious marketing fukuppy/blunder.

    I would say that gauged by the old PR adage that any exposure is good exposure, this particular advertising campaign has been wildly successful. In fact, a Google search of "Fukuppy" now yields 89,600 hits, and this is being covered by major media outlets worldwide. Well done boys.

  • 0

    sillygirl

    What with the internet and stuff there is no "only for japan" or anywhere else for that matter

  • 0

    spahnmatthew

    Just wait till Fukushima Industries announces a product recall -- then its mascot name will seem prophetic!

  • -1

    Nipporinoel

    One answer fits all situations in Japan.

    This is most " regretable" but I'm sure they will " sincerely reflect on the situation", "collect all relevant information swiftly " and "take appropriate action speedily ", "to avoid public confusion" - "we will consider forming an expert panel.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    Reminds me of the hair salon that opened in my neighbourhood about a week back. The owner wanted to call it 'Day Spot', as in a place you could go and have your day, or whatever, but went ahead and made the sign himself, which reads "Despot". Just below it is the "menu", which reads "opneing campaign" then goes on to explain in Japanese. Use your own language, or if you want to use another, please check first. Fukuppy beats Calpis by miles.

  • 0

    C Harald Hansen

    it's pronounced Foo-Koo-Pee, not Fack-Koo- Pee, geez, some people have dirty minds.

    Well.. People not familiar with Japanese phonology, will ultimately end up pronouncing it like the latter example. And hey, it's the internet, a place full of dirty-mindedness and debauchery galore, lol.

  • -1

    nigelboy

    http://www.nashakyo.jp/f_fukuppy.html

    Might as well Narashino welfare office. They been "getting away" with this for over 9 years.

  • 0

    ambrosia

    thunderbird: Well it happens with product names from America too - we in Britain don't call a fanny-pack that, as it's rude... we call them bum-bags. Don't know why it's rude? Google 'fanny' in relation to UK vulgar slang.

    Yes, that's always good for a laugh but not exactly the same. Fanny is vulgar in British English and refers to "lady parts". It's only mildly vulgar in American English and refers to your behind. They both refer to body parts in regions of close proximity. The more vulgar interpretation of the word probably comes from the John Cleland novel "Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure" which was written in 1748 and was probably not a big seller in the States at the time since it was only first published there in 1963. Additionally, the well-respected British writer Jane Austen has a character named Fanny Price in the novel Mansfield Park, published in 1818. To further add to the confusion "Fanny" is a commonly used diminutive of Stephanie in Mexico.

    The name of the mascot in question is derived from combining a Japanese word and an English word. In other words, they just flat out made up a new word and ended up with, what is admittedly funny sounding.

  • -1

    Scrote

    There is a "Cake Shop Fanny" here in Sendai, which always makes me smile. There is a clothes shop called "Sperm" too.

  • -1

    kurisupisu

    It is apt as it is,couldn't be more black humoured than it is......

  • 0

    Bartholomew Harte

    Who is the "Target Group"the company is seeking to deal with,kids ? Moronic sales pitch for these products,Way Off & OUT!!

Login to leave a comment

OR

More in National

View all

View all