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April 5, 2007

COOL Laws Set To Create Cool Brand Naming

oysters.jpgA recent statement from the Food Marketing Institute on country of origin labeling (COOL) has food marketers curious to find ways to communicate where food is produced in an imaginative way.

Compare “USA Fish” with “Wild Alaskan Salmon," or “American Peaches” with “Georgia Peaches" or “North American Onions” with "Vidalia Onions," and you get the idea. Country of Origin laws, which are not yet mandatory, cost retailers thousands of dollars without, some argue, giving them a proportional increase in sales.

Nonetheless, next year they will come into effect and those in the product naming industry who can help supermarkets and producers turn this legislation into good brand names are likely to carve out a decent niche for themselves.

Designers, by the way, seem to hate COOL laws, routinely ignoring FTC recommendations in this regard. This might be because so much of our clothing is made in Asia.

Country of origin labels make a distinct branding statement, according to Jack Trout and Brad VanAuken: I’d rather buy a car from Germany than from Greece, or salmon from Alaska than Africa. But as a consumer, I am open to suggestions when it comes to other products, including food.

Why not think outside of the box? How about a campaign promoting California tomatoes, the way California grapes were promoted a decade or so ago? And while we all love Florida oranges, how about Coorg oranges or Shimla apples from overseas, getting the same kind of brand name differentiation as New Zealand kiwi fruit.

At least one catfish brand has taken things to the next level: Uncle Cat Marketing, owned by former catfish producer James E. Popejoy Sr., has decided to go so far as to ask the FDA to help him literally mark catfish filets with red white and blue lines. The press release reads: “hopefully the ink approved would be viewable to the consumer after cooking, much like a counterfeiting mark on US currency.”

Seafood producers are especially sensitive to the COOL laws, as they are the only food industry faced with the reality of country of origin labeling. Hey, I’m all for buying American fish - I just do not know if I want red, white and blue sushi.

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Posted by William Lozito at April 5, 2007 8:27 AM
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