Some big brands are universally known but still generate a lot of debate about how they should be pronounced. Is it Nai-key or Naik? And is the stress in Adidas on the first or second syllable? This happens even within a single country. Take that international, and you'll find even more takes on pronunciation.
The Danish beer brand Carlsberg has long claimed to be "probably the best in the world," but it's realised this might not be good enough if people can't pronounce it. Its solution? AI-powered pronunciation training rewarded with free beer (see our pick of the best print adverts for more inspiration).
Some brands give in and change their names completely when pronunciation is difficult in certain markets. That's not really an option for an international beer brand though. So in a bid to reintroduce itself in the Vietnamese market, Carlsberg decided it would see to educate people – with free beer as a reward.
The agency Happiness Saigon (opens in new tab) devised an interactive billboard displaying a localised phonetic spelling of the its name, which it suggests should be pronounced /Car-z-berg/. A voice-activated tap dispenses beer whenever someone says the name correctly. This is powered by an AI system developed with BLISS Maker Studios. The model was trained on voice inputs from hundreds of people pronouncing ‘Car-z-berg.’
Following the on-ground activation, the brand has launched the carlsberg.com.vn/vn (opens in new tab) microsite where “anyone in Vietnam can attempt to nail the difficult name themselves and win some ice cold beer."
The campaign has a bit of a behavioural conditioning feel to it, rewarding people with beer for saying the right thing. It also has us wondering if we've been saying Carlsberg wrong all this time. We're not quite sure if Carlsberg is suggesting that 'Car-z-berg' is the correct pronunciation of its name or a suggested localised variant.
The campaign shows that pronunciation issues can be a challenge for brands, but on the other hand they also create a talking point that can even increase brand awareness (our own team is irreconcilably divided over whether Cricut should be pronounced 'cry cut' or 'cricket'). But if free beer's involved, many will be happy to pronounce a brand name however the company wants.
For more advertising inspiration, see our pick of the best billboard advertising. And with Christmas fast approaching, you might also want to check out our choice of the best Christmas ads of all time.