Parlez-vous francais? For Target to win in Quebec, the answer better be "oui."
- Blog Post by: Thomas Lee
- February 24, 2013 - 3:40 PM
Okay, let’s first set the record straight.. The French equivalent of Target Corp. is not Chez Target (roughly pronounced shay tarjay). Someone invented the phrase to describe Target’s cheap chic esthetic.
Point of Sale only makes this point because of the issues that Target must confront as it prepares to open stores this year in Quebec, Canada.
To put it mildly, the province is quite protective of its French culture, particularly its language. In fact, Quebec law requires all business names be in French. That’s why Kentucky Fried Chicken is “Poulet Frit Kentucky” and Staples is “Bureau en Gros.”
Parti Quebecois, the conservative nationalistic party that runs the government, now wants to tighten the law to force retailers like Wal-Mart and Gap to either Frenchify their names or somehow add a French word to the brand. Since there is no real French equivalent for “Wal-Mart,” you can see how this can be problematic.
Last fall, Wal-Mart, along with Richfield-based Best Buy Co., filed a lawsuit seeking to block the government’s move. (A spokeswoman for Best Buy confirmed the company had joined the lawsuit but declined further comment.) The case is still pending.
Target officials would only say they are working with the local officials to respect the language law but also protect their brand’s integrity.
Target and Best Buy have good reason to protect their brands, in part, because they don’t particularly translate well into French.
Best Buy would be “Le Meilleure Achat.” Target translates into “cible,” “but,” or “objectif.”
Somehow, it just doesn’t sound the same.
© 2013 Star Tribune