I was a proud owner of a Vauxhall Omega for several years and I have driven many Vauxhall rentals, from Corsa to Vectra and Insigna; I can call myself a fan of this British brand (together with Opel, its European cousin; they are both owned by General Motors which is one of the largest car manufacturers in the world).
My biggest disappointment about Vauxhall started the other day when I saw an advert of the new Mokka (in the picture here on the right). This post about the name of this car and is not even considering how good or bad it is as a vehicle. I do realise how difficult is nowadays to come up with a new name that is, at the same time original, unique, memorable and it can be best associated to the product it represents.
We are in an Internet dominated world where every name for a company, product, service, website must be worldwide proof. Years ago car manufacturers could get away with calling the same model with different names depending on the country they were sold in. Vauxhall/Opel was using this approach until the early eighties when the Vauxhall Nova was the same car as the Opel Corsa (which then became the Vauxhall Corsa) Vauxhall Astra was the same car as the Opel Kadett (in this case the Kadett name was dropped and both brands now have a model called Astra). Corsa, Astra, Vectra, Omega or Insigna all have a common characteristic: they sound Italian or Spanish, they finish with “a” so to sound feminine (at least in Italian where the car is also a feminine object like in French, while in Spanish coche is masculine) and they have little or no meaning so they play their part well. Mokka maintains some of the above but fails on the meaning, simply because of a spelling that can be misunderstood and misused.
Just to start Moka pot (caffettiera in Italian) is a kind of a coffee machine, super common in Italy and other Mediterranean countries (here pictured on the right).
Then Mocha is again a kind of coffee available by both small independent coffee shops as well as large global brands.
Funny enough when I first searched “mokka” on Google (from my office in Cambridge UK) the auto suggest function automatically added “coffee” and pressing search I found a small independent coffee bar based in Berkeley CA that has this simple WordPress based website.
Without repeating what I already mentioned in my previous post about car naming when writing about the Dacia Duster I am once again wondering who could possibly name a car Mokka, and get away with it. I am sure that that a process like giving a name to a new model should take into account many internal marketing people, at least one agency, perhaps a board of directors… nobody could spot a similarity to a coffee machine or a coffee recipe? Did they noticed it and hoped nobody would say anything?
The funniest part of this is that in Italian old crappy cars are still called “caffettiera” so was this, after all, an anticipation of what people will actually call this model? I am seriously unimpressed.