Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Miguel.
I, too, was thinking of the "corporate unconsciousness" that created the Nova fiasco for Chevy. However, unlike that particular situation, and as you have indicated, the N word has very deep and very negative historical roots in the US. (I, like many of the gen-x population here, probably don't have to go far in our family tree where that word was actively used or spoken to). Coincidentally, I heard Obama just spoke about our country's race relations yesterday in an unannounced speech. I didn't get to hear it, but I understand it was quite powerful, and quite relevant to the issues at-hand.)
Therefore, in my opinion, agree with you that the US and Europe are as equally conscious AND UNCONSCIOUS, when it comes to race. However, I very much see this as just another example of corporate unconsciousness and irresponsibility. I believe that creating and naming a product which can easily be miss-construded to represent one of the most offensive words in American culture, is highly disrespectful, at the minimum, even if the pack is never intended to be sold in the States.
This reminds me of a man I once knew who recently passed away. He was an extraordinarily sweet, gentile, and deeply spiritual person. Due to a series of powerful visions he had experienced in the 60's, he had committed himself to the mission to reclaim the ancient symbol of the swastika.
In case you are interested I just found this page about him: http://www.vice.com/read/manwoman-is-taking-back-the-swastika
Anyway, I suspect that the reason I share this is because I have witnessed first-hand the visceral impact that jewish men have experienced just looking at this man without his shirt on, regardless of his sincerity of intentions. For some of them; to simply look at a man covered in an ancient symbol which the Nazi's hijacked and used to their gain was FAR too much to for them bear, both personally, and inter-personally. In my wife's family (Filipino) , we have are elders in her family who wont even look upon Japanese men to this day, due to the indescribable trauma they had experienced by Japanese soldiers as children in the WWII concentration camps.
Like the swastika, I believe it may take many many MANY more generations before the N word may not have the same cultural impact that it still has. And due to the interconnected world that we live in, if I were an international company, it would be in my best interest to pay very close attention to this. I don't foresee any protests and riots over this one, but I can assure I already have friends who will say to me "There goes another one..."
all the best,