Automotive: October 2008 Archives

Buckypaper: A Naming and Branding Strength or Weakness?

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buckypaper.pngI have no idea why the inventors of so many new, interesting products seem to actually go out of their way to get silly names appended to their inventions. Today's case in point is Buckypaper.

Yes, you read that right. Buckypaper.

No, this is not really nubbly sandpaper, nor is it dental paper for buck teeth. In fact, this isn't paper at all. Buckypaper is actually "The tube-shaped variation of the buckminsterfullerene molecule" which can be dispersed in liquid and turned into a very, very strong film that's 10 times lighter, but 500 times stronger than steel. Say hello to new planes, cars and homes made of this interesting material.

Did I mention that buckminsterfullerene is referred to as "buckyballs," so nicknamed by its Nobel Prize Winning discoverer?

That's right, the miracle substance of the next generation starts out life as buckyballs and then evolves into Buckypaper. insecta-concept.jpgAlthough surprisingly, this might not even be the silliest prototype name I have seen this month - the (probably fictional) High Five-o-Meter gets that label - but it is close. A second runner-up is The Insecta, the product name for a new concept car that looks sort of like a . . . well, you know.

Hey, at least the Insecta has a name, the new, incredible eBook reader by Plastic Logic is still in the midst of its own product naming process.

However, in the case of Buckypaper, a bad name might actually be far worse than no name at all. You definitely won't see me stepping into an airplane made out of Buckypaper any time soon.

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Does Brand Name Product Placement Work?

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007_quantam_of_solace_trailer.jpgIt is no surprise that the new James Bond movie will have some serious brand name placement, but the real big winners will be Aston Martin, Omega watches, Smirnoff, Virgin, Heineken and Ocean Sky, a British private jet company.

Now one may wonder how much product placement factors into the minds of consumers, but it is tough to argue against the fact that Bond's cruising around in an Aston Martin has helped Aston become the coolest overall brand name in the UK.

Placing brand names in movies is something moviegoers have come to expect, but music lovers are also getting their share of them as well.

Busta Rhymes and Diddy's (previously know as Puff Daddy) "Pass the Courvoisier Part Two" pushed up the sales of the refined Courvoisier cognac by a whopping 20%. It's my guess that the new buyers were not habitual drinkers, but were major rap fans.

entourage.jpgAccording to one site that tracks product placement worldwide, Variety magazine and Apple have seen plenty of airtime on the HBO hit series Entourage. Of course this is nothing out of the ordinary, Apple seems to be everywhere these days. I just had to laugh when I saw Al Pacino in 88 Minutes playing a college professor who was literally surrounded by Apple logos as he taught.

This leads me to wonder if there are not some uniquely placable product names. I take my hat off to Busta and Diddy for actually working an awkward word like Courvoisier into a song, although I should add that my favorite rap product placement of all-time was Jay-Z's use of the even more awkward Armand de Brignac in a pointed "dis" at the easier to rhyme Cristal.

Besides pronunciation, there are other difficulties, like getting macho James Bond to fly on something called "Ocean Sky," which is probably almost as hard as associating his name with "Virgin."

Although, the biggest jaw dropper is that Bond won't ask for that "shaken, not stirred martini," something that must have been a disappointment for Smirnoff.

It really seems to me that certain brand names have to start to ask themselves what they'd sound like in a rap song, or how they'll look on the big screen for a second and a half.

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