Friday, May 17, 2013

In the Know

As we walked into Nike Headquarters Canada, I felt like I was entering a secret society like the Illuminati, the Masons, or the group of people who can assemble Ikea furniture in less than an hour (and without curse words). Firstly, there was no sign with the name “Nike” on the building, simply a signature swoosh on one corner.

Once inside, I felt like I was a cast member in a sci-fi movie. Everything was modern, glass and chrome and secret doors everywhere. However, I was catapulted by to 21st century when the rep showed up. I found him to be rather an anomaly in this futuristic setting. Half his head was shaved and he appeared to prefer the use of ink to clothe his body rather than the traditional--well--clothes. I found this odd considering he was trying to get companies to buy clothes. He did manage a pair of shorts and a tank top barely covering his hyper designed skin.

Apparently he was a runner. This did not fare well as I was there to learn about soccer cleats, of which he knew very little. But, it was his attitude, not his appearance, that got my hackles up, creating a prejudice that would not step aside.

He was rude, elitist and condescending. I wasn't a happy bunny, especially since I wear Nike almost exclusively. The whole experience made me think about athletic companies in general.

The thing that strikes me about many of these companies is I believe they are trying to create a little mystery, mostly by the pronunciation of their names. They like to keep the general public guessing, as very few of them are straightforward. You hear the word “Nike” said two ways consistently and I am not even able to count how many variations of “Saucony” I have heard.

Why do they do this? I believe it is to create an aura of mystery, elitism and to see if you are really in the club. If you can pronounce it right, you are truly an athlete, a member of those 'in the know'.

Well, I believe we should all be 'in the know' so I am going to crack open the code. Move over Dan Brown, I'm going to solve mysteries even Robert Langdon might find challenging. Forget anti-matter and the Pope, I've got the inside track on how to say “Puma” correctly.

So, let's do this in alphabetical order, shall we. After years of research, I am here to give you the answers you've been looking for. Let's start with the As.

Addidas. Looks simple enough. This one is a little tricky because it depends where you live. If you are in North America, you should pronounce this Add DEE Das. However, if you are European and you said it like that you would be looked at as if you had three heads. In Europe, it is said Addy DAS. Since Puma and Addidas are rival companies owned by two German brothers—a fascinating backstory—I think the second pronunciation is probably how the owner says it.

Asics. The name of the company "ASICS" is an acronym of the Latin phrase "anima sana in corpore sano" which translates to "a healthy soul in a healthy body" or "a sound mind in a sound body”. I nearly choked on my green tea latte one time--while in a store a patron asked to look at the  employee's ASS-icks. I don't know how the attendant kept it together, but he did. If someone asked me if they could look at my ASS-icks, I think I'd slap them. The “A” is a long vowel sound. Trust me. It is. So, please, do yourself, me and the 18 year old part time employee at the sports store a favour and ask for EH-sicks please. Just do it. Oh, wait, that is Nike's slogan...

Nike. This is Greek, named for a god. And, judging by that rep's attitude, some of the employees think they are gods. So, in Greek, anything ending in an e is pronounced 'ee'. So, although many people say Nike, rhyming with bike, it is actually Nike, rhyming with Mikey.

Saucony. A lot of people say sah-CONEY (rhyming with pony). However, the name itself comes from the Saucony Creek in Pennsylvania. The correct pronunciation is SOCK-ah-knee. I've even heard sauce-ney which sounds more like some type of ice cream topping than sneakers.

Puma. Only two options here. One sounds slightly off-colour, kind of in the vein of Asics. Pooh-ma. Nope, not that. It is Pume (rhyming with doom) ma.

There you have it. You are now in the club. No more mystery, no more guessing. You should be good, until, of course, you decide to pick up that Sugoi shirt...

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