While bands often come up with their names during drunken discussions of obscure sci-fi flicks, corporations sometimes go through a much more stringent process of nomenclature determination. It usually costs a lot more, too.
In fact, as featured in a September Business 2.0 piece, there are "dozens" of consulting firms that specialise in name creation, including Landor, A Hundred Monkeys and NameTrade. Business names can cost $25,000-$60,000 or more. The naming fee for Hewlett-Packard's spin-off Agilent ran to around $1m. (Something tells me the most agile aspect of that deal was displayed in the naming consultant's invoicing capabilities.)
When Boston office supply company OfficeTempo realised that "potential customers frequently assumed it was a temp agency", the firm called on NameTrade. The four new name finalists were: "Apropri", "Kivero", "Semprio" and "Spirigo". Semprio was the overwhelming favourite, apparently because its "dactylic rhythm pattern begins with a surge of energy, then continues with two unaccented syllables, suggestive of confident completion or peaceful repose," according to NameTrade's spin.
Now, thanks to the rise of firms with amorphous titles like Lycos and eBay, companies are bombarding consumers with unmemorable, meaningless names developed by "namers", ie people who glorify their lack of spelling skills as a marketable talent.
And, one wonders, now that companies across the globe are tightening their budgetary belts, where will naming consultants find their future clients? My guess is in the obstetrician's office.
Folks who think a US National ID card is a scary thought may want to consider what else the Feds are considering these days. As featured in a September 27 Wall Street Journal brief, former IRS commissioner Daniel Alexander refers to Roth IRAs and Archer Medical Savings Accounts, commenting, "Since we can't keep politicians' names out of the Internal Revenue Code and our surplus is disappearing, how about getting needed revenue by auctioning naming rights to Code provisions? Naming rights might be marketed for five-year terms (or until repeal), and bidding should be brisk for the desirable provisions."
The question is, why stop at IRS provisions? Why not auction off the names of all bills introduced in Congress? Surely when bills like the Merck Prescription Drug Affordability Act and the BP Pipeline Safety Act are introduced, there won't be any conflict of interest. Man, I can't wait till some senator gets slapped with a "defamation of brand" suit when he announces that the McDonald's Stop Childhood Obesity Act is prejudiced against fat kids.
Capitalising or capitalism?
In the last few weeks, the lives of Americans have become enshrouded in fear: the fear of further attacks against innocent civilians, the fear of weakened civil liberties, the fear of a global recession. Call me misguided, but one of the things I fear most right now is the triumph of politically correctness over honest realism.
Advertisers, PR firms, the media and the mass public all seem to be succumbing to their guilty consciences. Campaigns are being put on hold. PR reps have been rendered speechless. Practically every company that has contact with the public is rewrapping its message in the swaddling clothes of sorrow. Still, a handful of firms have disregarded the obligatory decorum of the day, and instead tailored overt marketing messages directly to the events of September 11 and the ensuing "War on Terrorism".
Visionics is one such firm. The facial recognition technology company distributed a press release on September 24 which the typically irreverent UK website The Register has deemed exploitative.
"We've heard of price gouging by retailers of American flags, 'Infinite Justice' mouse pads, and Bin Laden bin liners," writes the IT-focused e-zine in a September 26 tirade, "but face recognition outfit Visionics takes the prize for bottom-feeding on America's bereavement, fear and anger."
The Visionics release promotes a white paper entitled Protecting Civilization from the Faces of Terror: A Primer on the Role Facial Recognition Technology Can Play in Improving Airport Security.
There is an array of corporate communications that has appeared during the last few weeks that I find far more offensive. Take MTV's words of regret trickling along the bottom of the television screen as hips gyrate, arses jiggle and gold teeth glimmer above them. Or consider the radio ad that reminds me that the promise of a new tomorrow keeps America strong, and NY Lotto (New York State's lottery) will be there when I'm "ready to dream again".
There is no comparison between patronising heightened emotions in order to sell lottery tickets or mouse pads and demonstrating the availability of a product that has an actual purpose relative to the attacks and resulting events. I'll admit, though, I'm still hoping to see Wheaties cereal boxes featuring NYC firemen and Ben & Jerry's Enduring Freedom Fudge Chunk hit the market soon.
That's not all. For additional commentary on these and other stories, visit The Lowbrow Lowdown.
This article was first published on brandrepublic.com