Automotive: August 2011 Archives

HellsAngelsTshirt.pngThere are few hard and fast rules in the world of naming and branding, but one of them is that you never, ever, do anything that makes the Hells Angels upset. Even if you're Amazon.Com.

The online retailer just pulled a t-shirt that read "My boyfriend's a Hells Angel" (pictured at right) because the famous outlaw biker gang threatened to, well, sue the living daylights out of them for trademark infringement.

It seems that the name "Hells Angels" is not generic and thus it can't be used as a fashion statement.

The gang's attorney notes that "Hells Angels is a membership mark, and it denotes membership in the organization. Even the Hells Angels do not put it on T-shirts they sell to the public."

The shirts also have wings on the back that are a clear rip-off of the club's "death head" logo.

The Hells Angels have sued many other organizations for using their marks in the past, including Saks, Zappos, Disney and Marvel Comics. They managed to convince fashion house Alexander McQueen not to use the death head insignia on his offerings and got their name written out of the script for the film "Wild Hogs."

Never mind that this is an outlaw motorcycle gang (according to the US Department of Justice) of 800 members on six continents that has been prosecuted for everything from motorcycle theft to drug dealing, a trademark is a trademark.

But it really does seem to me that getting a cease and desist letter from a trademark attorney representing the Hells Angels makes one think very carefully before taking the matter much further. As in, you'd be crazy to even contemplate it. Even if you're Amazon.Com. As one blogger puts it: "Go ahead and steal, just not from the Hells Angels."

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SRT Brings Street Cred to Chrysler Naming and Branding

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Chrysler is moving the acronym SRT (Street Racing Technology) from a model name to a brand name.

The SRT badge has already outgrown the Viper and the RAM trucks; it was on the Neon, now the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Charger. Get ready to see it on Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat branded automobiles as well.

A Chrysler 300 with Street Racing Technology? Oh, never mind, lets go with this...

Dan Heyman at Car Pages points out that this is the first time an American company has done what the Germans have been doing for years - offering "bespoke, highly powered and advanced versions of the cars their parent companies provide them with, and they are treated as brands unto themselves" (think Mercedes/AMG and BMW/M branding).

Ralph Giles, the President and CEO of SRT had this to say about the move, "Being a separate brand will allow our team to expand the dedicated engineering and marketing resources for specific performance vehicles. We strive to never lose focus on driver involvement and vehicle character while maintaining each of the vehicle brand's key design differentiators."

He also says that this is a brand that will go right to the people. "I see it in a more accessible viral and Web-based media world, and the number-one area will be grassroots, ground-level events. The company says all SRT vehicles henceforth will reflect five engineering imperatives: high horsepower and torque ratings; high-end handling dynamics; high-end braking systems; an exterior paint, function, and aesthetic strategy that makes SRT both visually identifiable and aerodynamically slippery and road-hugging."

There is already a media advisory that the newly formed brand is kicking off its High Performance Tour at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum today and 2 PM. You can see the new SRT lineup and meet Giles himself. The press is already saying that the SRT brand has "underpromised and overdelivered" on the new models. And a "supercharged" package might be in the offing for 2013, says the rumor mill.

I like this move.

It is leveraging Chrysler's legendary muscle car image, and letting the halo spill over into trucks and smaller vehicles. The racing stripes on the Dodge logo, for instance, do the same thing.

Is Chrysler trying to revamp the muscle car itself, which many feel died with Pontiac? Sure.

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America's Next Top Namer Scholarship Deadline Extension

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couple.jpgThanks to all the interest and inquires we've received about our America's Next Top Namer Scholarship, we've decided to extend the deadline for submissions one month to 12am EDT (midnight) on September 15, 2011.

To this point we've received a number of very imaginative and intriguing name candidates for our new car concept involving a wind powered electric engine that recharges itself while you drive.

However, we would like to reminder those of you on the fence that the scholarship is for $2,500, so we would encourage you to give naming a try or pass it along to someone you know who might find it of interest.

Click here to learn more about the America's Next Top Namer Scholarship or submit your application online.

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