Speaking of donkey names, the mocking names given to famous brands in China, I forgot to mention one other coining we’d considered: Pube name Right. Ugh. Pubes. It kind of comes with the territory. The Chinese internet is famously creative with its crude metaphors. So at least one wag has combined the common internet way of referring to oneself as a loser (the term is 屌丝 diǎo sī = literally “pubic hair”) with the word “name” to come up with a term we’ll call “pube name” — which is the same idea as a donkey name but every bit as crass in Chinese as it is in English, evoking the same squirms folks get from words like crotch and moist.
We were tempted to use Pube Name in English too, rather than Donkey Name. It does have a certain abrasive hipness. But we are, after all, a family business, and who wants to explain to their small children why they can’t talk about work at home. So donkey name it is. And let’s celebrate the term by adding a few well-known donkey names to the list:
Gucci has earned 哭泣 Kūqì, which means to cry or sob, as its donkey name. The pronunciation is quite similar to “Gucci”, but I have yet to see any jokesters stretch far enough to explain what crying has to do with Gucci.
Facebook sounds awfully similar to Fēisǐbùkě 非死不可, which means “definitely must die,” a curse you might think effective if you consider how long Facebook has been blocked in the mainland.
MSN 摸死你 Mō sǐ nǐ, “touch you to death”. Among those who were touched to death by this Microsoft chat product, which was once ubiquitous in China, no one was really sad to see it go.
Google can be 古狗 Gǔ gǒu “ancient dog”, or 狗狗 Gǒugou, just “dog”. It’s a dog of a name, but not that bad as far as donkey names go. The pronunciation of both sounds closer to the English pronunciation of Google than does its official Chinese name, 谷歌 Gǔgē.
So, yes, these donkey names poke fun and mock. But it is well to keep in mind what they don’t do: they don’t make a difference in the marketplace. As I said last time, the donkey name is not the dolt name, which stirs up genuine negative associations and/or confusion among the masses of the target market. A donkey name is simply a spark of creativity, a fancy that strikes a funny bone, holding no real significance in the bigger picture.