Monday, November 19, 2007

Eraser Man

This brought a smile to the globally minded team at Columbia Talk:

Columbia's WR Grace got a little cultural lesson when it tried to introduce Eraser Man to China, according to this story in the trade Industry Week.

"Eraser Man seemed like a harmless gimmick to promote lean manufacturing throughout the global operations of Columbia, Md.-based W.R. Grace & Co. The pink eraser mascot was supposed to convey a simple message: eradicate or 'erase' waste. But when the $2.8 billion specialty chemicals manufacturer introduced Eraser Man during a focus-group session in China, the company's Asian staff was perplexed and perhaps a little miffed. That's because in China, erase actually means invisible.

" 'They said, "Do you really want this program to be invisible?" '" recalls Michael Piergrossi, W.R. Grace's vice president of human resources. 'Of course, the answer is, "no."'

"Also at issue was the color pink. 'Pink is just not an acceptable color in China; it's feminine. No self-respecting man would want to be associated with a program that's marked by the color pink,' Piergrossi explains."

All is well now. Eraser Man is now tan and employees in China are asked to "simplify" or "reduce" rather than erase, the magazine said.

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