Maybe. Maybe not.
There is one French company that is tired of free publicity.
It is Kärcher, which makes high-pressure washers used to clean dirt, graffiti and wear from building façades. Its products cleaned Mount Rushmore.
But “to Kärcher” has become a French political verb with explosive content. The leading presidential candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, coined the term two years ago when he went to the immigrant suburb of La Courneuve after a boy was killed by a stray bullet, and said he would clean out troublemakers there “with a Kärcher.” Mr. Sarkozy’s opponent on the far-right, Jean-Marie Le Pen, responded during a stop in the suburb of Argenteuil last week. “If some want to Kärcher-ize you, to exclude you, we want to help you get out of these ghettos,” he told people there.
All this is too much for Kärcher France, a subsidiary of a 70-year-old family-owned German company, which does not want to become a metaphor for quelling gangs in suburbs populated by immigrants of African origin. “We wanted to remind people that we’re a family company, with well-entrenched values, that didn’t match these comments,” said Patrice Anderouard, the spokesman for Kärcher France.
The company has sent letters to all 12 presidential candidates and other politicians, asking them not to use the brand name. It has also run ads in newspapers stating that the company “cannot recognize itself in the recent words and confusion to which its name has been associated.”