I’ve dug deep into 20th century Europe to uproot this postulate concerning the Ford Motor Company.
In 1903, a piece of short fiction entitled “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was initially published in Russia. As time crept by, somehow the fiction–with rampant anti-Semitism as its injection–morphed into counterfeit fact. A vicious hard-bound treatise under the same title was published and widely circulated on the continent, then spread like bubonic plague. In a nutshell, this virulent canard-posing-as-reality held that a cabal of Jewish Elders gathered at a Prague cemetery in order to hatch an elaborately devious plan to seed a plot whose goal was Jewish hegemony of the world. Moreover, two separate nets were woven, one for Jewish control of Capitalism, the other for the stewardship of Communism. This preposterous fake-history tale took such deep and wide root that it eventually landed in the lap of Henry Ford, who swallowed whole its content and became a zealous advocate. Not satisfied with merely mass producing automobiles, he tried to mass produce mass anti-Semitic hysteria by having half a million copies printed and distributed freely ( it was literally free-of-charge) to any and all.. Owing to this legacy of toxic enmity, many Jews for many years unofficially boycotted Ford dealerships.
Fast forward to the present: The Henry Ford stain has faded to mere palimpsest. But Ford marketing–with the introduction of the electric Mach E– may have unwittingly placed the stain under threat of resurfacing.. Seems that in Henry’s day, when anti-semitism was more openly expressed, three derogatory epithets were being maliciously flung at American Jewry. The two most popular were “Kike” and “Sheenie”, both in pale currency these days. The third, more obscure, slur is near extinction, but nonetheless still exists, if only as a vague memory. The name of this mock, is “Mockey.”
Its oral similarity of “Mockey” an ” Mach E” is, well, startling at least. So here’s some free advise to Ford Marketing from an old Jew, retired from a career in marketing and advertising. Scrap the Mach E monicker into the Edsel dumpster and rename it. With anything else. If–owing to the brand- equity you’ve already baked into the name, you find abandonment unwise enough to keep the branding alive , at least remember this: When the TV voiceover announcer intones the brand name, make sure he or she is directed to pump some oxygen between “Mach” and “E”, as in “Mach…E.”
Bear in mind, though, that you have missed a blind spot in the corporate rear-view mirror, and that if you don’t re-call the name “Mach E”, that some old Jews like me may recall the name “Mockey.”
NOTE: The preceding isn’t the first account of gaffes committed by our captains of industry. Not very long ago, bumping over our rutted roads was a monument to unintentional cognitive dissonance, a model of Jeep named after two of populations that history records as lethal enemies of each other. The model’s name? The Cherokee Pioneer. They may as well have named it the Jeep Contradiction. Who knows? Maybe I was the only one who noticed.
Quite a while ago the GE Marketing Department was flummoxed over the drooping sale of a Chevrolet model across Latin America.The name? The NOVA. Apparently, in the ears of Hispanics, the designation “Nova”suggested the car couldn’t go very fast.
My third example made its way around the marketing community for decades and may be apocryphal. But I, for one, am buying it. In the era when short, punchy detergent brand names (e.g. Duz, Biz, Tide, etc.) were born, one of the Proctor &Gamble’s few Jewish employees was ambling through the plant when he noticed that–racing down a printing press–were boxes of a new detergent bearing the name, “Dreck.” Immediately he dashed up to the Marketing Department and explained that the word “dreck” in Yiddish meant “shit”. Stop the presses!!!! Immediately!!! And thusly ‘Dreck” was renamed “Dreft.”