latino lingo

All things related to effective Hispanic marketing, Hispanic advertising and Hispanic public relations.

Monday, March 20, 2006

VW has some "turbo-cojones"

VW's decision to market its new GTI to Hispanics by using a black-and-white billboard with the car and the words "Turbo-Cojones"in big, bold letters, has caused an uproar in Miami, the Sun Sentinel reports.

For those of you who didn't learn swear words in Spanish, cojones literally means testicles. Though, the word -- like its English counterpart "balls" -- has been adapted to mean "daring" as in someone has "cojones."

According to the article, Clear Channel Outdoor refused to put the billboard up in Miami, but CBS Outdoor put it up in Little Havana. Then the complaints came forcing VW to pull it down. They also took it down in New York and LA, though the story says there wasn't an uproar like in Miami.

"We wanted something that broke out of the mold and carried the connotation of being strong and gutsy," Daniel Marrero, creative director for CreativeOndemanD, is quoted as saying in the article. He goes on to say, "This is a word adapted in the American vernacular. We never thought it would be an issue."

But, the issue clearly is how the message would be interpreted by Spanish-dominant speakers. Clearly, it took "cojones" for VM marketing to agree to Marrero's creative recommendation. Then again, perhaps this double meaning -- the car having "turbo cojones" and VM having "turbo cojones" for putting such a message in Miami -- is why they did it. However, it backfired. If they wanted to create "buzz" perhaps this wasn't the approach to use in a city like Miami.

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