Most of us wouldn’t think twice before referring to sticky notes as ‘Post-its’, or flying disc as ‘Frisbee’ and in-line skates as ‘Rollerblades’. These are just a few out of so many brands that have become more widely used than their original names. I believe even a term has been invented for it: Genericide.

And just like anywhere else in the world, Brazil also has many similar examples. One of which being adhesive tape, where people refer to as Durex – a famous brand of tapes in Brazil, but also a famous brand of condoms in the UK.

Now with that in mind, I’ll tell you a story of this Brazilian English student who left Brazil a few years ago for the first time to visit the United Kingdom. Let’s call this guy Pedro.

Pedro is very keen on practicing his English and is taking every opportunity to talk to people, ask for directions, recommendations and so on. One morning Pedro walks into a WH Smith, a well known stationary shop in the UK, looks around for a while, doesn’t find what he wants and walks to a member of staff. “Excuse me. Can you help me, please?”

“Yes, how can I help you?”

“I’m looking for durex.”

The salesperson, obviously very confused, replies “I’m sorry, but you won’t find this here. You need to go to a Boots store. There’s one just down the road”.

“Thank you.” Pedro says even more confused. He walks out of the shop towards Boots. And at Boots he goes straight to the till point. “Hi, I’m looking to durex.”

And the quite helpful salesperson “Yes, what type are you looking for?”

Pedro’s reply was “the one you can write on”.

Of course Pedro learned some new words that day. But I wonder what was the first thought through the staff’s mind…

This true story still cracks me up every time I remember it.

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