Kraft, the giant food company that makes Cadbury, Oreo, and Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts amongst hundreds others, is rebranding itself.
That in itself is not that unusual. Companies rebrand themselves for various reasons - usually to hide from bad reputations (in Kraft's case, it's because the company is splitting itself into two different parts).
What is unusual is its choice of name: Mondelez. Actually, there's a macron (a horizontal straight line that goes above a vowel to connote a long vowel sound) above the second e. But I can't find that on my keyboard. So, in short, it's pronounced "Mohn-dah-LEEZ."
Diana Brady of Bloomberg Businessweek explains:
Think what you will of Mondelez International, the new name that Kraft Foods (KFT) will slap on its global snacks business after the company splits this year, at least it’s not “Tfark.” That was one of the 1,700 names suggested by more than 1,000 Kraft employees during the five-month process of soliciting ideas.
For Kraft spokesman Michael Mitchell, “Tfark” is a personal favorite. “I’m not sure what it means,” says Mitchell. “I just liked the way it sounds.” He submitted “Snax” as part of what he likes to call “the co-creation process” but admits he “was told it’s not a good name.”
Mitchell explains some version of Mondelez—pronounced “Mohn-dah-LEEZ”—was suggested by two employees in different parts of the world. The first was Johannes Schmidt, a 35-year company veteran working in information systems in Vienna. The other was Marc Firestone, Kraft’s general counsel and someone Mitchell describes as “a real renaissance man,” based at the company’s headquarters in Northfield, Ill. Both came up with the idea of playing on the notion “delicious world.”
Delicious world - get it? The Italian "Mondo" (or the French "Monde" and the Spanish "Mundo") for "world" and the made up word "deleez" which is short for "delicious."
“What they say is perfectly true,” confirmed Irwin Weil, professor of Russian language, literature and music at Northwestern University.
“There is a rather vulgar word, ‘manda.' (Mondelez) includes the sound of that word,” he said, adding that Kraft “had no idea when pronounced it means a Russian vulgar word.” The second half of the name roughly translates into the sex act, say Russian speakers.
So, what do you think of the name change? (Oh, and if you were wondering about the image, that's Peanut Butter Doug, the stunt double for Mr. Peanuts)