Kiss my…

The city of Turku, far in the south-western reaches of Finland, has come up with a slogan to market itself. (Note: For a Finn, the word “turku” is a very, very archaic word for a market or an open place, known from the phrase “maailman turuilla” or “out there in the (probably wild, dangerous and evil) wide open spaces and marketplaces of the world (where the young people go, oh woe, etc. etc.)”, if even from that. The city name is not treated as meaning anything in common conversation.)

The slogan is:

KISS MY TURKU.

The intention, I assume, was to associate with the nice, positive, carefree-romantic associations of kissing, plus, hey, it’s in English so tourists and the young people will love it! Yay!

I think the slogan associates more with exclamations that start with “Oh yeah? Well, you can kiss my—” and then go on, scatologically.

This might be one of those impossible cases where the ad agency has been given the task of being clever, but not too clever. It’s probably nearly impossible to come up with something that’s both edgy, witty and clever… and something that a good number of non-native speakers actually get.

Unless, of course, the marketers were shrewd people, as I imagine their job description reads… and they’re targeting both the surface-reading people (“Yay! Kissing is nice!”) and the ironically product-buying scatological set (“Yay! I sharpied in an arrow pointing to my crotch!”).

Clever, if that.

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