When Matt Henderson released Rego, an app for saving locations, he was surprised to see it take off in Brazil. The director of an American interactive agency based in Spain, he couldn't figure out why 25% of the app's downloads would be coming from a single Latin American country. Until, that is, he found the article on Gizmodo Brazil article that explained it to him.
The name he had chosen for his app also happened, it turned out, to be slang for “butt crack” in Brazil, an unfortunate coincidence made more unfortunate by text on the app's website that explained: “Rego’s private. Nobody sees what you add to Rego. But sometimes you’ll want to share a place with a friend—or even the whole world—and Rego makes that easy.”
“The very first thought was, oh my god, what a disaster,” Henderson tells Fast Company. “But then, I thought, well gosh, it’s actually a little bit funny, and it’s leading to a lot of attention in Brazil, and we’re getting a lot of attention.”
He checked with a Brazilian friend to make sure that “Rego” wasn’t a terribly offensive term (three of our own Brazilian friends have confirmed this). And then, he decided to roll with it. Recording a video response to the Gizmodo article, he explained the coincidence and admitted, through his literal laughter, that it was pretty funny. He ended the video, “You heard it hear first.”
Which of course, isn’t true. They heard it on Gizmodo first. But by taking ownership of the joke, Henderson was able to earn some good will from commenters that had previously shared his app only because it was funny. A follow-up article from Gizmodo even mentioned his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. “The Brazilians seem to really appreciate that we took it in good humor and rolled with it,” he says. “The response of a lot of people when they see the video is they end up giving the product a try out of curiosity.”
Laughing along, in other words, allowed Rego to ride a wave of unexpected download growth. The service, Henderson says, won’t be changing its name.
It will, however, be localizing in Portuguese.
[Image of, er, rocks: Flickr user L.C.Nøttaasen]