September 27, 2005
Mama Mia! Another Luxury Airliner
Three months from now MiMa, a new luxury charter airline operated by Eurofly, will begin service between Milan and New York City. The acronym MiMa is an abbreviation of "Milan-Manhattan". MiMa's advent, it is claimed, will promote "greater cultural understanding" between wealthy denizens of the two cities. We have written at some length in these pages that the exciting new trends in product naming are resonant, evocative, stand-alone, memorable names like Song, Ted or Eos.
MiMa reminds me of "Mama Mia!" a pejorative Italian exclamation that often means disappointment or frustration, surely not a good connotation for an airline company. MiMa is not as resonant as MoMA, the familiar acronym for Museum of Modern Art in New York. Further, the name limits the brand. What if MiMa wants to offer flights from Milan to Los Angeles (MiLAX) or Washington to Milan (WaMi)?
Acronyms are traditionally labels formed from the beginnings of words (Greek: acro [head] and nym [word]) -- or very rarely, from letters in the middle of words. It seems clear that this is a device best suited to place names like Tribeca, Delmarva or SoHo rather than high-end transportation services. It seems incredible that one would resort to acronyms in naming a product from Italy given the wealth of beautiful Italian words that are out there especially since MiMa will link Manhattan with Milan, the capital of fashion and sophistication.
I think it's unlikely that a business traveler, clearly the target market for this airline, would want to phone into a client in New York and announce that she's flying in on "MiMa". The word is easy to mispronounce (Meemah? MyMa? Mimay?) and thus hard to remember and spell for a Google search. MiMa will appear on a ticket with a series of destination and ticketing abbreviations, thus making it difficult for the product name to stand out. On top of all that, I think it sounds effete and small. Mama Mia!!!
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