Beverages: March 2007 Archives

I think the idea of combining Coca-Cola and L’Oréal is a little frightening.

loreal_coke.gifNeither drinking Feria #93 nor washing my hair with Diet Coke has much appeal. Nevertheless, “drinkable skin care” is the latest thing in nutraceuticals, and Coca-cola has been producing “Love Body” in Japan for a while, and more recently launched “Enviga” in the U.S.

Now it’s Lumaé, a beverage based on anti-oxidant-rich green tea.

I’m in no position to comment on the effectiveness of the product, which won’t be released until 2008. It’s the name that worries me. “Lumaé” obviously comes from Latin lumen, meaning “lamp,” the root word of “illuminate.” It’s a good root on which to base a product name meant to give your skin a healthy glow.

loreal_coke_2.gifThe problem is one of pronunciation. Is the name two syllables or three? The acute accent in French is used to show that you pronounce a vowel separately, e.g. “Loh-ray-ahl” and not “Loh-reel.” That would suggest that “Lumaé” is pronounced “Loo-mah-ehh” or “Loo-mah-ee” rather than “Loom-eye” (which would be the Latin pronunciation).

English has little tolerance for hiatus, the separate pronunciation of two vowels with no consonant between them, and that means English speakers will have a hard time pronouncing “Lumaé” correctly if it’s meant to be a three-syllable name. And if it’s not meant to be a three-syllable name, what’s with the accent aigu?

A final note of warning to Coca-Cola and L’Oréal: the unicauda lumae is a parasite residing in the livers of Iraqi barbel fish.

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Coca-Cola Asked to Drop Coca from its Product Name

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coke_world.jpgBolivia’s coca growers are demanding that Coca-Cola drop the word “coca” from its name.

It seems that "coca" being part of the most famous brand name in the world is a transgression on the country’s cultural heritage, where the coca leaf plays a central role in everything from tea to toothpaste. Many bloggers have responded with outright disbelief.

Preeti Aroon at Foreign Policy Passport draws a similarity between Bolivia’s (seemingly doomed) struggle to own the word “coca” and Ethiopia’s attempts to protect its various coffee trademarks.

coca-cola_cocaine.jpgHe also intelligently says that this is certainly a stunt on the part of President Evo Morales to legalize the growing of coca, the primary ingredient in cocaine, by repositioning it as “sacred” and an important component of other products (including flours and liquors) the country ostensibly hopes to export.

Coke has noted that the brand name is protected under Bolivian law and it is highly, highly doubtful that the world’s number one brand is going to change anytime soon. This reminds me of the New Coke debacle, one of the most memorable product renaming initiatives in history.

Are coca leaves, in any form, actually in Coke? Coke refuses to say but Aroon has found an interesting link showing that they used to be, decades ago.

CocaColaLabel.jpgEddie at Everything's Corner notes that Bolivia is also trying to get coca removed from the UN's Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It is interesting to note that while the UN will not let Bolivia industrialize and profit from the Coca name or product, Coca-Cola is indeed doing so, whether coca leaves are part of the legendary secret formula or not.

But this is all moot—there are certain names that cannot be claimed by a country and trademarking the word “coca” will prove to be almost impossible. As Dr. X asks, “What next? Queen Elizabeth tells Royal Crown to drop the word 'Royal?' The American Medical Association goes after Dr. Pepper?”

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starbucks_records.jpgYesterday the New York Post broke the story that Starbucks is going to launch its own record label and wants Paul McCartney to offer the first release.

The new company name will be Starbucks Records and could sell music via in-store kiosks. Of course, it’s unlikely they will actually sell records at all. This looks like retro brand naming aimed at the demographic who can still remember turntables.

Some bloggers think this is a great idea. On the other hand, an interesting post from earlier in the week might give one pause: Stephen Smoliar points out that a recent poll by CRM Buyer shows Dunkin’ Donuts is quickly gaining ground on Starbucks, scoring higher than the well known brand name on “in-store experience” and “quality” and “taste.”

Smoliar quotes the head of Brand Keys, the folks who did the poll: “When you think of Dunkin', you think of doughnuts and coffee. You don't think of CDs, you don't think of sandwiches, you don't think of newspapers.” Smoliar also wonders, “Is America losing its taste for the ‘Seattle trendy’ cachet, if not for the beans and brewing?”

A three part post by ex-Starbucks employees John Moore and Paul Williams on Brand Autopsy and Idea Sandbox dissects Starbucks’ branding efforts and notes that the company is just selling too much stuff: from finger puppets to Barista Bears to, yes, CDs.

Maybe, Moore says, if they want their brand to gain ground on their ferocious competitors, they should ask themselves a simple question about every single brand name extension: “Does this product link directly to coffee?”

I think Starbucks has lost its way, but has what it takes to get back on track, focusing on the Starbucks experience.

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Starbucks Not Happy About Starstrucks Brand Name

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An Indian coffee shop chain named Starstrucks has earned the wrath of Starbucks, who has found itself embattled in trademark infringement disputes worldwide.

starbucks_brand_name.gifI have already written extensively about Starbucks’ troubles in China, where a pretender pops up, it seems, almost weekly.

This new Indian coffee shop is “glamour themed” and the owner Shanhaz Husain, an herbal beauty specialist, can’t understand why Starbucks is steamed about her company name and the fact she hopes to open 25 stores this year. “My concept's totally different,” she says.

Lewis Green wrote an excellent post about this subject. Green is spot-on when he says, "brand names are only legally protected when they are legally defended when challenged." That is important because, he says, "Starbucks growth and success rests on the familiarity and emotional response that its brand name engenders."

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