May 14, 2007
Can the King of Beers Rule Vodka With the Pomacai Brand Name?
Anheuser-Busch has just filed an intent-to-use trademark application for the Pomacai brand name.
No, this isn’t a new beer: it’s vodka. And not just any vodka, according to what analyst Mark Swartzberg told the Wall Street Journal, but “a fruit-flavored vodka involving pomegranate and açaí, a fruit native to South America.”
That would make Pomacai a portmanteau name, but a more problematic one than, say, “Slentrol.” Brew Blog notes that açaí berries are popular in smoothies and juices, but the fruit is not a household name in America.
And even with the diacritical marks which are missing from the trademark application, pronunciation is far from obvious.
The name has the advantages of being both descriptive and exotic, but any alcoholic drink needs a good “Bar call.” People have to be able to say it out loud with confidence. And vodka is not a snooty drink for the French speaker, either.
Anheuser-Busch’s earlier ventures into the realm of spirits have much better bar calls. “Ku Soju” (a sort of sweet-potato vodka) is tidily phonetic, and “Jekyll and Hyde” liqueurs have a memorably funky name with a hint of danger.
Because of the difficulty with trademarking names, companies trademark more names than they end up using.
It’s entirely possible that when (and if) the vodka appears, it won’t be called “Pomacai.” Which would probably be a good thing for both Anheuser-Busch and vodka drinkers.
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