May 31, 2012
So "Five Wives" vodka has been banned in Idaho as being offensive to both Mormons and women, although the product is made in Utah, home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The label depicts five women in 19th century garb holding kittens in what may (if you squint and sort of tilt your head) be suggestive poses.
The Idaho State Liquor executive says sniffily "Products that we feel are marketed toward children, or are in poor taste with respect to our citizens will not be authorized for distribution."
Okay, but if the name and imagery is fine in Utah where Mormons comprise 62% of the population, why is it offensive to the state of Idaho where Mormons make up just 23% of the population and where right this moment Idahoians are buying "Free the Five Wives" t-shirts?
In addition to the sale of Five Wives, a brew named Polygamy Porter is made and consumed in Utah, and interestingly, Polygamy Porter is sold in Idaho.
An Idaho State Liquor executive sheds more light on this mystery saying that the vodka product space is crowded and, "There was nothing that really differentiated [Five Wives] other than its name and its label that had five women with cats in their crotches covering their genitals. We make decisions all the time in what we can fit into our stores."
But is differentiation really necessary? And what other vodkas offer similar labels?
Plus, the name, according to its creator in Utah, has nothing to do with polygamy: "The person who came up with the name, she really liked the idea of five wives sitting around having a drink. There really is no pointed meaning to it and everyone can bring what they want to it... it's not about making fun of Mormons at all. Quite simply it's a name that seemed to fit."
To make matters more interesting, the five wives on the label aren't even wives!
According to ABC News "They were sisters: the Barrison Sisters, a vaudeville troupe of dancers whose appeal was that they titilated by asking if audiences would like to see their female organs. They then would lift their skirts, revealing pussycats."
The head of marketing at Ogden's Own Distillery, maker of Five Wives, had this to say when he was told of the photo's history, "To us it's just an image. We love the fact that there was a mystery to where it came from. And so what? They're cats."
Have to agree with that.
Ah, some names die ignoble deaths.
Take, for example, the fact that the FDA has just nixed the name "Corn Sugar" for High Fructose Corn Syrup.
The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) would like to see the Corn Sugar name as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has such a bad rap.
I have been following this story since September 15, 2010 when I noted that HFCS is one of the biggest sources of calories in the American diet.
The rewards for a name change are obvious. Think about how much better Canola Oil sounds than Low Eurcic Acid Rapeseed Oil.
In 2011 I noted that the corn industry was slowly introducing the term into their ads and had created web sites like CornSugar.com and SweetSurprise.com. At that point the FDA warned that "It would be affirmatively misleading to change the name of the ingredient after all this time, especially in light of the controversy surrounding it... If we allow it, we will rightly be mocked both on the substance of the outcome and the process through which it was achieved."
The Sugar Association is loving this, with one lawyer in their camp saying bluntly "What's going on here is basically a con game to suggest otherwise... What do con men do? They normally try to change their name. The FDA has thankfully stopped that."
May 30, 2012
Another day, another naming nutcase.
A certain David Elliot in Phoenix is taking on Internet behemoth Google in an attempt to strip the company of its trademarks. Yes, he wants Google's name, and says that the trademark is now generic. He argues that the word Google now simply means "search on the Web."
I warned Google this would happen in a blog post years ago. Actually, in many blog posts where I talked about the slippery slope to genericism.
Now, Mr. Elliot is trying to make it official, not least because he owns an impressive amount of websites (750 of them, in fact) that contain the word "Google." Such as Googledonaldtrump.com and Googlegaycruises.com.
CNET notes that Elliot's legal team (who I hope are charging this man by the hour and collecting in advance):
Leans heavily on the American Dialect Society declaring that "Google" was the word of the decade, a word that means "search the Internet." The complaint also says Google is aware that its trademark could be lost, as happened with "zipper," "thermos" and "yo-yo."
Google has already sued Mr. Elliot for the rights to his websites and won, and I would imagine that they could afford to drop a few million just for the fun of it to ensure that they don't lose their trademark status.
To summarize Catherine Cai at Tom's Guide, this might have been the start of an interesting legal debate save for the fact that Elliot's websites are so pathetic looking it is clear he is trying to make a buck off Google's name. Cai concludes, "maybe this is just somehow an expensive, elaborate troll."
Yeah, that sounds right.
We Google things using Google, not Yahoo! or Bing. Additionally, Google has very carefully filed its trademark and defended it in the past.
The name may become generic someday, but only when it is determined through legal cases, and only then will Google possibly lose the trademark (although it really does not seem likely) but Elliot will be long gone by then.
The only thing that will remain of him at that point will be blogs and articles that are full of laughter, scorn and derision, that people can, well, Google.
May 29, 2012
Imagine that you were taking a flight to Jack Daniels International Airport. Or Absolut International.
Would that be a little, well, strange?
An airport being built in southwest China will be named Wuliangye after a high-end spirits brand.
Wuliangye is a 600 year-old drink that is the second biggest liquor brand in China after Moutai, so the local officials saw a chance to cash in on the brand's resonance.
The brand's flagship office is located a few kilometers from where the airport is being built, which is slated to handle 800,000 passengers yearly by 2020.
This brand naming example has caused a bit of an uproar in China, where airport names have historically referred to the geographic location of the airport.
Chinese bloggers found time to make fun of this move, with one writing "Ha, ha, another new example of the collusion between the government and the business world," and another suggesting that the Xian airport in the northern province of Shaanxi be renamed "Meat Sandwich Airport" after a local food.
It is unclear how much Wuliangye paid for the naming rights, but it is probably the start of a larger trend given the cost of air travel these days.
May 25, 2012
Well it's time again for a long weekend away from the job. We sure hope you enjoy your time off, and get to spend Memorial Day soaking in the weather on a lake, golf course, or backyard somewhere.
Many of us are thinking about the price of hot dogs. And the price of gas.
Let's also stop to think of those veterans who paid the ultimate price for our country and for the freedoms we enjoy today.
The men and women who gave up all their tomorrows so that we could have ours deserve our thanks. They are the true American Idols.
The news that Tide Pods are being swallowed by children because they look like candy is a reminder that flashy packaging and naming can actually have a downside.
Tide has reacted quickly to this problem and is planning to release a childproof container for this summer.
For one, it doesn't seem logical that laundry detergent should have to come in a childproof container, but of course I laud the safety factor here.
I can see the problem, however. The product looks like candy.
Poison control centers are now telling parents to keep it out of reach, away from children. And now, of course, it will come in a hard to open package.
I might add that the word "pod" does have an alternate, edible meaning.
This is the kind of problem that can cause a branding and PR headache. If the product and name remains the same, but if they are put in a childproof mechanism, will this prevent people from buying the product? Will safety and ease of use trump the efficacy of the packets themselves?
Not surprisingly, Tide isn't alone. Purex also faces this problem. Purex UltraPacks come with a child warning, and one executive has said "This is a new form of laundry product and we will continue to join other manufacturers to safeguard and educate consumers on the correct storage and use of these products in the home."
I am sure that this will all come to a happy conclusion, but this is one of those times when safety becomes an unexpected issue.
There are a surprising number of household products that look like candy or food to little people.
Aspirin looks like Altoids. M & Ms look like all kinds of pills. So do Skittles. Mr. Clean looks like Gatorade, grape juice looks like Dimetapp and, if you're stretching it, Comet looks like Parmesan cheese.
These companies all rely on the good sense of customers to keep the product away from the kids.
May 24, 2012
The drink recipe of half lemonade and half iced tea was created by the famous golfer Arnold Palmer, he has a licensing deal to market this product, using his name and image on packaging.
Marketing Daily presents an interesting naming dilemma to the world today, as Country Time promotes its new lemonade and iced tea mix.
So how do they name their new drink?
By enlisting celebrities such as Drew Brees, Kristen Chenoweth and Michael Waltrip to push for their own name using social media and crowd sourcing.
It's called the "Campaign for the Name."
Consumers are asked to help campaign for the name they like best. And by the end of the summer, a new brand, for Country Time's version of the drink, will be born.
There are videos galore that add an emotional, funny angle to the whole thing.
What we have here is a move to make celebrities' fans into consumers.
This may work for Country Time, as the relevance of Arnold Palmer is fading.
May 23, 2012
Here's an interesting name for a beer - Churchkey.
Hollywood star Adrian Grenier unveiled his new Seatle-brewed beer yesterday in New York. Churchkey comes from the name of a can opener that is used to punch holes in an old-school can of beer. You know, the ones that are just flat on top.
Those flat topped cans went extinct when the pull tab came along in the 1960s.
But here is where it gets interesting - church key may be a variation on "tchotchke," which essentially is a word for any unusual trinket.
The old tchotchke openers were given away at gas stations and at breweries as an advertising gimmick, and over time the name changed to church key.
Ironically, "tchotchke" is originally a Yiddish word.
Churchkey Can Co. feels "The name was then adopted to all tools used to open beer - with an ironic twist - for it is said if you used a church key opener (i.e. if you drank beer), you would be less likely to open the door of a church to attend service."
Similarly, MillerCoors has recently introduced the "Punch Top Can," which is designed with the normal pop top as well as an extra tab to puncture. This tab helps increase airflow and allows for a smoother pour.
Controversy has surrounded the design of the can as it is similar to shotgunning - the act of puncturing an extra hole in the can and consuming the beer at a high rate of speed.
May 22, 2012
Today we consider a worst case naming scenario.
The University of Texas is experiencing huge Internet backlash over a typo on its commencement program for the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
They spelled "public" incorrectly. Worse, they spelled it "pubic."
Cue laughter and jokes (LBJ School makes a Very Pubic Error, situation gets hairy, etc.)
Then, the school panicked and sent out a tweet apologizing for the "eggregious" (should be spelt "egregious") error:
Our deepest apologies to our 2012 graduates for the eggregious typo in our program. We are working to distribute corrected programs." -@TheLBJSchool
Oh, the agony.
The school, after a few false starts, sent out a formal apology to the graduates:
Dear 2012 Graduates,
The cover of this year's commencement program contained an unfortunate typographical error, which has since been corrected and is in the process of being distributed. The error originated with UT Printing, but we failed to catch it. The mistake was inexcusable, and we are mortified. As soon as we caught the error after the programs had been distributed, unfortunately we immediately began work on a corrected version that we will send out electronically and in hard copy to all our graduates, with our deepest apologies. We will send three hard-copy versions to each of you so that you can pass those on to your families and friends. Let us know if you need additional copies. No one feels worse about this than I do, so please accept my deepest personal apology.
With best wishes,
Robert Hutchings, Dean
LBJ School of Public Affairs
This was the good move. The personal apology from the dean acknowledges the mistake and shows that people in high places genuinely feel bad about it.
Then, another good move: all efforts were made to clear up the mistake.
The lesson here is that typos happen. To anyone.
And there needs to be a foolproof system to avoid this kind of exponential embarrassment when they do happen and damage control needs to be in place.
Heading right to Twitter is probably not the right thing to do. Understand who will apologize, make the apology, and only then tweet about it.
And learn how to spell "egregious."
May 21, 2012
The interesting piece by Steve Smith in the NY Daily News praising the brand naming of New York's bike sharing efforts via the Citi Bike program is going to bring up the old argument over whether or not everything is up for grabs when it comes to brand naming.
Smith's point is that this is another "new way for private dollars to help make possible a program with important public benefits."
Will parks and museums be the next to see privatization? Millions of people visit these places each year, and let's face it, it's hard to shock a New Yorker.
The bottom line, according to Smith, is that "Public services are expensive. Taxpayers are stretched. Let companies be part of the solution."
Let's also recall that New York is considering the move towards making parking meters a private business, and this of course would lead to ads and branding meters.
The problem is that once you privatize a space (like a parking space, or a library or a park), the state may still need to be able to move that space, or convert it to something else, should the need arise. And the company that sponsors it now gets a say.
Corporate naming in schools is also tricky, according to a very recent New York Times opinion piece by Tom Friedman.
Friedman argues that "When public schools are plastered with commercial advertising, they teach students to be consumers rather than citizens."
OK, sure. But schools already use so many brand name products that it seems silly to ban brand naming from, say, the sides of buses or the gym. To reword Smith, the cost of education is expensive. Parents are stretched. Let companies be part of the solution.
A public park may get the nod from a brand, but as Meghan Dunn argued a few years ago in the LA Times, I don't think the Grand Canyon will be renamed Gap Gulch anytime soon.
May 17, 2012
Every so often I like to return to one of the biggest dangers in the world of naming and branding, and that's what happens when your brand becomes lost in translation.
It seems a company from down under called Wyngle found that their name really wasn't trusted all that much by Americans as it sounds too much like "wangle." So they are now named Wynbox.com.
The article, Five business rebrands that got lost in translation, mentions four other notorious failures, including Peugeot's ill-fated attempt to move into the Chinese market - the Chinese translation of Peugeot is "Biao zhi," which sounds like the Chinese slang term for "prostitute."
Other notable faux pas include Pepsi's slogan "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" which in Taiwanese translates to "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead." And in China the KFC mantra "finger licking good" translates to "eat your fingers off."
But of course the world is littered with terrible names, and they just keep coming. Vauxhall's new car will be called "Adam," leading one source to wonder "Couldn't Vauxhall have done better?"
Let's just hope companies learn from these brand naming faux pas.
We have compiled a list of brand naming faux pas you may find helpful.
May 16, 2012
It's now official - Liz Claiborne Inc. will now be named Fifth & Pacific Companies Inc.
Their focus will be on the brands Juicy Coutre, Lucky Brand and kate spade, thus officially saying "goodbye to the iconic Liz Claiborne name."
The company name change news has been public since January when the Liz Claiborne name was sold to JC Penney Co..
This strategic move was made to accommodate their three lifestyle brands, and the name change took official effect yesterday.
The company name itself is an obvious reference to both California and New York, making the name far more inclusive than the Liz Claiborne name.
In a recent video about the name change, CEO Bill McComb points out that that the new name "telegraphs who we are" to both American and, importantly, European and Asian consumers.
McComb also pointed out that "we wanted a name that came out of the consumer vernacular, not one that sounded like a re-coined or invented word."
The name had to encompass the three flagship brands as "Juicy was built bicoastally, Lucky was always an LA brand, and kate spade is a quintessentially New York brand." More than that, they "didn't want it to sound like a hedge fund, a Silicon Valley high-tech company or a law firm."
He points out that there is a great deal riding on the name, as "our focus is on growing domestically and tapping the shores of Asia and Europe in a big way. This name change doesn't impact those moves because we've already been making them, but Fifth & Pacific sounds and feels like a lifestyle company, which is what we are."
I like the thinking behind this name.
The move towards being a "lifestyle brand" explains why the Liz Claiborne name had to go. So, it's adieu to Liz Claiborne and hello Fifth & Pacific.
May 15, 2012
Ford's new slogan, "Go Further" will replace its "Drive One" message while also making an interesting move in de-emphasizeing its brand name and logo in advertising.
This effort to de-emphasize the name is fairly radical as Ford has aways been very straightforward about its brand name (the F series truck is the best selling vehicle in the U.S. and of course "F" stands for "Ford").
Ford is trying to "overcome negative perceptions" about its name and get people to pay attention to the cars and the marketing. One Ford executive says, "As soon as people see the badges they jump to conclusions about the brand."
As a response to consumer research that showed people liking the products more when they did not know where they came from, Ford unveiled a week of nameless advertising starting April 30. These nameless ads generated 3.4 million consumer views online.
Despite consumer intrigue, Ford reintroduced the name and logo in its advertising a week later.
The new "Go Further" advertising will target the "skeptics" who see Ford as a less than stellar brand when it comes to quality and fuel consumption, areas where Toyota and Honda dominate.
They are not creating a "new reality" for the company, says another executive, but instead are documenting the "goodness in the company already."
The idea is that Ford is so well known - but so misrepresented - that the brand can now quietly reposition itself. Will this happen without constant reminders to consumers about who they are? Time will tell.
May 14, 2012
The carriers in Australia aren't capable of a 4G quality network for the new iPad. The new iPad with 4G LTE only seems to properly function in the U.S. and Canada on a total of five carriers.
The new naming isn't for Australia alone, but also for the U.S., Canada, UAE, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Ireland and Hong Kong. The iPad 2 will stay with the name iPad 2 WiFi + 3G.
Apple recently posted this message on the Australian online store:
This product supports very fast cellular networks. It is not compatible with current Australian 4G LTE networks and WiMAX networks. For service from a wireless carrier, sign up for a simple, month-by-month plan on your iPad and cancel anytime without penalty.
And "for the sake of absolute clarity" Apple is placing notices at points of sale in their retail stores as well.
The reaction across the blogosphere has been mixed, but I was interested to see that iTWire was willing to say, "Apple has certainly had some boneheads to deal with in its time, but none more so that those who were unable to read the 4G iPad marketing materials, and those in government power deciding they could 'do something about it.'"
iTWire goes on to say that the threatened lawsuit against Apple is "ridiculous."
I think Apple probably figured that if they went to court in Australia, they would lose.
It doesn't seem reasonable to suggest to people they buy a certain product with a certain service that they will not even be able to use. Apple's willingness to change the name in the U.S. is indicative of that - because only a couple carriers here support 4G.
The name change represents a move towards accuracy in marketing. And that is not something I would call "ridiculous."
May 11, 2012
The death of Vidal Sassoon had a few people in the world of social media admitting their surprise that he was a real person.
One tweeter wrote, "I didn't know Vidal Sassoon (RIP) was a real person, I thought the companies Vidal and Sassoon had merged once years ago."
This led Karen Tumulty, national political advisor for the Washington Post, to wonder "How much overlap is there between people who didn't know Vidal Sassoon was a real person, and ones who thought the Titanic was just a movie?"
Vidal Sassoon was a highly driven hair stylist, who allowed women to break out of the shaped, beehive, sculpted look to real cuts that emphasized their face.
His career blossomed in the U.S. when Mia Farrow mentioned Sassoon in the Polanski horror film Rosemary's Baby, where her hair was famously cropped: "It's a Vidal Sassoon, it's terribly in."
Sassoon sold his brand in 1983 to P&G but stayed on as its pitchman, giving us the famous tagline "If you don't look good, we don't look good."
He was one of the first celebrity "hair gods," and was known to brag that he was the first hair stylist to put his name on a bottle of hair care product.
For future reference, Johnnie Walker, Toyota, Colonel Sanders, Famous Amos, Adidas, and Chef Boyardee were all real people as well.
May 10, 2012
The news that a Nebraska entrepreneur has legally changed his name to Tyrannosaurus Rex all in the service of increasing his name recognition is worth a laugh.
Yes, you read that correctly, Tyler Gold thought his name didn't have quite the resonance as that of the famous carnivorous dinosaur. With the approval of a judge, he changed his name to Tyrannosaurus Rex Jospeh Gold.
He had to assure everyone he wasn't changing his name to avoid creditors or the police. He simply wanted potential clients to remember his name.
As one blogger points out, "Whether prospective clients will see him as a valuable business partner - rather than a complete fool - remains to be seen."
Now, while this may not be a smart move it is actually a sad example of the poor guy's desire for name recognition being eclipsed by his need to build meaning into his personal brand.
The world is actually full of ridiculous brand names that drew howls of derision across the blogosphere when they were introduced. Here I am thinking of Wii and iPad. Both names are eye catching and even a little ridiculous, yet the names are now ubiquitous.
The difference is that both the Wii and iPad names lend meaning to their products. "We" are brought together to play the Wii video game system, while the iPad name is descriptive of the tablet and follows Apple's naming convention.
But what if he was an exceptionally aggressive lawyer? Or a professional wrestler? The name change would still be ridiculous, but fraught with meaning. Nobody states what our friend in Nebraska actually does, so while people will remember his new name, it may evoke the wrong impression.
Think about the real law firm called "Payne & Fears." Surely they would have room on their staff for a guy named T-Rex?
I don't know about you, but that sounds like a great name for a divorce lawyer.
May 9, 2012
The greater Palm Springs area, a desert valley that has seen an increase in tourism, is rebranding itself to The Greater Palm Springs Oasis.
Additionally, the new slogan is "Greater Palm Springs Oasis: A Brand New Day."
Another part of the destination rebranding initiative is the commercial which offers a collection of experiences from golf to music and film festivals.
The new logo is an "oasis infinity" featuring nine loops that symbolize the valley's nine cities and nine "brand pillars."
The nine brand pillars are:
Sanctuary: Spacious places of escape, from historic to quaint to modern and resort.
Seductive: Enticing the senses and passions.
Sensory: Not just a place, but a collection of experiences that engage all the senses.
Serene: An oasis of calm and quality relaxation.
Spectrum: Alive with color, light, discovery, from sunrise to sunset.
Spirit: Enriching, nourishing, rewarding and connects.
Sport: A mecca for outdoor adventure and activity.
Style: Timeless, chic, unique lifestyle, architecture, art, fashion and music.
Sunny: The 360 days of clear blue skies changes your outlook and warms your heart.
The metaphor of an oasis, a peaceful relaxed area, in the desert should draw more attention and visitors to Palm Springs with its new name, The Greater Palm Springs Oasis.
May 8, 2012
The chatter on the blogosphere is heating up about what the new iPhone will be called, not least since the "New iPad" was such a shocker.
Will it be "The iPhone" or "The Next iPhone" or how about the "iPhone 5"? There are a few good reasons why we might see an iPhone 5, because Apple has filed a claim with the World Intellectual Property Office for iPhone5.com.
Says Ross Newman of Business 2 Community:
Interestingly, Apple didn't get full control of the domain iPhone4.com until nearly a year after that device launched. And guess what happened with iPhone4S.com? Apple gained full control two weeks after the release of the iPhone 4S because that domain was forwarding visitors to pornography sites! Talk about a wrong turn.
iPhone 5 is an easier name than whatever might follow iPhone 4S, and the new iPhone will be revamped enough - thinner with a taller display - to warrant a new name, he adds.
Even business analysts are looking at this preemptive move for the domain name as proof that the iPhone 5 name is coming out.
Still, this just might be Apple trying to take control of the phone's name in the "virtual world" as well as gain SEO ranking. Apple does not want that iPhone5.com site to come up when people search for the new phone... unless they own it.
The new iPhone 5 launch will be huge, no matter what, but it is just too early to say if the company is going to drop the nomenclature for the iPhone brand name the way they have with the iPad.
Given the obsession Apple has with brand congruence, I would not be surprised if we did see the introduction of a device called The New iPhone.
Apple is just too secretive about its brand naming to let the cat out of the bag by grabbing this site long in advance.
But maybe not.
May 7, 2012
BitTorrent Inc. seems to be quietly rebranding itself as "Gyre Inc." BitTorrent is a downloading service, and the name "Gyre" has been appearing on its uTorrent site, a phenomeneon the company calls "a coding error."
The name change might be partly due to the fact that the word "torrent" has a negative connotation as far as the Internet is concerned. Or, BitTorrent might be aiming to go into a "non-torrenting" service.
A "Gyre" is Greek for a "sphere or vortex" or a "circular motion."
And PC Mag suspects that the word was chosen because of "some metaphorical relationship between the word's definition in oceanography - a large system of rotating currents - and the circular relationship of data within a BitTorrent model. Leechers become seeders for other leechers, and all that."
But the term is usually used with a negative meaning. William Butler Yeats made it famous in his poem The Second Coming:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
This kind of quiet name change seems to be less than optimal strategy, not least because it draws attention to the negative reason why a name change could be necessary in the first place.
And this might not be the best name for a company trying to shake free of negative associations.
May 4, 2012
As many of you know, Kraft is splitting into two companies. The Nabisco brand will be a part of Mondelez International, a global snack business.
At the same time, the Fig Newtons product name will become just Newtons.
From the product's inception 1891 until 1914 the brand was called Newtons, named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts
This is another example of a product going back to the future while continuing to offer strawberry and raspberry and who knows, possibly trendy varieties like goji berries to antioxidant-filled pomegranates.
This is a wise attempt to make the Fig Newtons product more relevant to today's consumer.
The new Newtons ads are aimed at boomers with the munchies and not just kids - and offer us "Newtonisms" such as "Never beat around the bush -- you'll just squash the berries."
This reminds me of the Johnsonville Sausage campaign where they have Grillville, Summerville, Vacationville, etc.
Will consumers give a 'fig?' Long-term, probably not. Short-term, expect some Twitter grousing, followed by acceptance.
May 3, 2012
CNN is reporting that South Africa's rooibos tea is a hit worldwide.
Grown only in the Western Cape of South Africa, this "red bush" (rooibos is the Afrikaans word for "red bush") tea has turned into a $23 billion industry, not least because the sweet red tea tastes good and has more anti-oxidants than green tea.
It also helps with colic, allergies, asthma and acne.
The growing area for the tea is tiny, centered in the mountainous Cederberg region just north of Cape Town.
Since the trade has quickly become so lucrative, producers in the small region are trying to protect the "rooibos" name.
Many feel the rooibos tea should be given a geographical indication status, similar to what the French government set in place for the word "champagne" - Champagne can only be used on wine from the Champagne region of France.
A producer of the tea, Willem Engelbrecht was quoted saying "I think it is the responsibility of government to make sure that legislation come in place, because we need to protect our cultural assets."
Indeed. The rooibos product name and heritage should be protected, and a regional indication status would most likely be the best way to do it.
May 2, 2012
I wonder about the news that store brands may be losing their luster with consumers.
For the first time since 2008, consumers do not plan to increase their usage of store label brands. This does not mean that store brands are doomed, it may simply means that their usage has plateaued for the time being.
A new report entitled "The Evolution of Private Label - Does Brand Name Really Matter?" notes that U.S. private label brands represented only 18% of household purchases in 2000, and peaked at 27% in 2011.
But satisfaction with these products has dropped from 32% in 2009 to 24% in 2012. There is the specter of "frugal fatigue" on the part of consumers who want to splurge a bit after years of watching their pennies.
I have no quarrel with the report.
My point would be that private label is here to stay and that the rise in its popularity would logically be connected with a slight drop in satisfaction as consumers get use to the product, buy more, and expect more from them.
The report notes that two-thirds of respondents say store brand quality is better than it was five years ago. And, interestingly, many people are buying store brands that look so similar to the brand name products that they are unaware of the difference (Archer farms at Target; Kirkland at Costco and Great Value at Walmart are mentioned).
I wouldn't write private labels off just yet. It might just be that consumers have raised their expectations.
May 1, 2012
Yesterday, the Brooklyn Nets unveiled their new logo and colors for this NBA season.
They also have a new borough and a new arena. The logo and typography's black and white scheme "pays homage to the old New York subway signage system."
More than that, according to ESPN, the Nets will have two primary logos (pictured at left).
The shield will be called "the shield of Brooklyn" which rapper and part owner Jay-Z, helped design. He boasts "The boldness of the designs demonstrate the confidence we have in our new direction. Along with our move to Brooklyn and a state-of-the-art arena, the new colors and logos are examples of our commitment to update and refine all aspects of the team."
This move from New Jersey is now complete, and the subway color scheme further entrenches the Nets in people's minds as a pure New York team.
This is the NBA's only team with a black and white color scheme, making it uniquely New York.
The team seems to be "leaning hard" on rap references to link itself to Brooklyn's "rap history" says Yahoo! Sports.
For example, there is an official NBA t-shirt named The Corner, which bears the Brooklyn name with sneakers hanging from it.
This references when sneakers are hung over telephone wires or power lines marking where either somebody was murdered in connection with gang violence, or the sneakers are used as a marker by drug dealers letting prospective buyers know where the drugs are sold.
I'm not sure there will be an outcry from the public over the rap references. After all, Jay-Z is part owner of the team, but it's going to have to have an edge.