Nivea Men or Nivea Man?

Nivea Men or Nivea Man?

You all know that the plural of man is men. In line with the different spelling, the words man and men also have different pronunciations, namely [mæn] for man and [men] for men, respectively. Listen to both pronunciations here, and make sure you can tell the difference. The motivation for this post comes from a whole marketing campaign by the well-known company Nivea. They have a range of products specifically for men, which are aptly called Nivea Men. So far so good. The problem that I want to mention is that in the German commercials, Men is pronounced as Man. Here is one of the German commercials (please don’t feel obliged to go out and buy anything),

and then compare it to this British commercial,

It uses the correct pronunciation, and hence actually corresponds to Nivea Men. In contrast, the German spot is advertising Nivea Man instead.It may take you a number of times to really notice the difference, but it is quite a good exercise to learn to identify the subtleties of English pronunciation. It will also be a good training for your listening skills.

Whether the incorrect pronunciation is used on purpose or because neither the speaker nor anyone else is aware of the problem, I don’t know. In particular, I can’t think of a good reason to do that. Why choose an English name and then mispronounce it? What makes them think that [mæn] is better than [men] or will lead to better sales?

There is another company, Dove, which uses the name Dove Men for their line of products for men. In contrast to Nivea, they pronounce Men correctly, see here:

Finally, if you are a fan of the series Two and a Half Men, listen to the theme song here, and compare the pronunciation of ‘men’ to that in the German commercial above. Do you hear the difference?


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