14 Japanese Brand Names That Wouldn’t Sell In The U.S.

Aéropostale, Popov Vodka, Häagen-Dazs — no, it’s not an excerpt from your old high school Friday night checklist. These are all made-in-the-U.S.A. brands with fake foreign names. Indeed, branding a product with a European-sounding name to give it a little more je ne sais quoi is a classic American marketing move.

Americans aren't the only ones who fall for the “imported” effect; Japanese brands commonly use English words to increase their product’s cachet. The problem — as anyone who’s heard the one about the guy who got the Chinese characters for “orange chicken” tattooed on his bicep knows — is that using foreign words with abandon can often result in unintended innuendos that only native speakers would pick up on.

For anyone who ever chuckled at “All your base are belong to us,” here are 14 super-popular Japanese brand names that probably wouldn’t have the same selling power in the U.S.

More from Living


R29 Original Series