GAITHERSBURG, Md. -- A lesson for the wise: Check with a foreign language expert for every possible meaning of a clever-sounding slang phrase before using it in an ad. Those who don't might find themselves embarrassed and making changes, as were the officers at Jerry's Subs & Pizza.
According to the Baltimore Business Journal, a recent Jerry's radio ad began with its lead character "Jerry," defending his pizza to a character portraying fictional TV mob man Tony Soprano.
"Aren't you Tony S-?" the Jerry character said.
"Never mind who I am," the celebrity impersonator retorted. "You're making some friends of ours at the pizzeria down the street very upset, pal."
Moments later, Soprano quipped, "I'm gonna take you for a ride on the Stu Cazz."
In the ad, the Italian phrase, "stu cazz" was a loose reference to Soprano's boat, named "Stugots," on the hit HBO show. But the phrase has another meaning: a vulgar reference to male genitalia.
Spoken completely, the phrase is "questo cazzo," but Patricia Violante, a translator for the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C., said it's typically shortened to become "stu cazz" or "stu cazzo."
When she heard how Jerry's used the Italian phrase, Violante was amused. She said it also is typically used to express disbelief or defiance, but also could be used with a humorous undertone.
"If I knew what it was, I would have canned it," said Dana Siller, the director of marketing for Jerry's. "I had other lines that were just as funny."