the product naming blog

May 31, 2012

FDA Finds Corn Sugar Name Not Too Sweet

High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup.pngAh, 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 FDA has now nixed the name altogether, partly on the grounds that the product is a syrup and not a sugar.

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."

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May 11, 2012

Vidal Sassoon: The First Name in Hair Care Brand Naming

VidalSassoon.jpgThe 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.

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April 27, 2012

Agent Orange Corn Grows With Some Unfortunate Product Naming

Corn.jpgSometimes it's easy to see real product naming problems.

Take, for example, the uproar around the genetically modified corn with the product name "Enlist," but known as "Agent Orange Corn" by its critics.

The genetically engineered corn is immune to a poison in 2,4-D that would be used for weed control.

The poison is perceived by activists as a key ingredient in Agent Orange, the poison that was dumped on hundreds of thousands of people during the Vietnam War and some say could pose a serious threat to human health and the environment.

Surely the new Enlist product name only encourages this connection?

This may be a chicken and egg scenario - the Enlist name existed before the Agent Orange Corn nickname was thought up. But there it is.

Dow AgroSciences wants to introduce the Enlist seeds to the market and if they do, we can be sure that 2,4-D will be extensively used to protect the corn.

But since 2,4-D has been known to harm human beings, causing everything from cancer to reproductive disorders, over 140 advocacy groups are participating in a letter-writing campaign to influence the government to reject Dow's regulatory application for the herbicide resistant crop.

But the corn doesn't seem to be the problem. It's the "drift" of the poison.

All I can say is that I really don't want to eat this corn on the cob on the 4th of July.

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November 10, 2011

Jenny Craig Changes Brand Name to Jenny

Mariah Carey.jpgThings are happening over at Jenny Craig.

First of all, we're supposed to call it just "Jenny." This name makes the brand a bit more accessible and seems to leverage how well known it is.

Secondly, the new Brand Ambassador is none other than Mariah Carey, who claims to have lost 30 lbs using the famous diet plan. It seems that the singer put on a great deal of weight after the recent birth of her twin sons Monroe and Morocco. In fact, if you include water weight, she claims to have lost 70 lbs.

Today.com suggests that Jenny is trying to be younger and hipper. Mariah is 42 years old, still a top artist, and is very much a celebrity of the moment. Past spokespeople have included Carrie Fisher, Sara Rue, Nicole Sullivan, Valerie Bertinelli and Jason Alexander.

The photos of Mariah for the campaign are a bit heavy on the sex appeal and bling.

But note how Jenny is also using Mariah to partner with the American Heart Association's "My Heart. My Life. Initiative."

This is designed to associate the brand name with health rather than simply dieting. Couple that with the new Jenny-Set-Go initiative which is a 28 day program designed to help people change their eating habits (not a crash diet, mind you).

Carrie Fisher seems to have lost 50 lbs doing the program and Mariah's success is equally amazing.

More than that, both women, including Valerie Bertinelli, have had public struggles with their weight and social lives that people seem to sympathize with. Jenny walks a careful line between just presenting us with celebrities who have lost weight and celebrities who have overcome personal adversity and come out of it feeling great.

I think referring to the program as "Jenny" can work. It makes the entire enterprise look more personal.

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October 17, 2011

Could "Pinking Out" Your Branding For the Fight Against Breast Cancer Backfire?

BreastCancerAwarenessRibbon.pngIt seems that many brands have "pinked out" for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

American Airlines has a "Fly for the Cure" campaign where users can indicate their location and donations by pinning a pink ribbon to the virtual pinkboard on American Airlines Facebook page. Some departure gates been painted pink as well.

Tic Tacs is now offering us Pink Grapefruit flavor, while Procter & Gamble is teaming up with the Give Hope program and allowing users to create a badge on the charity's Facebook page.

But here's an interesting question. Will associating your brand name with the color pink actually help fight breast cancer?

At least one researcher thinks it will not. Stefano Puntoni from the University of Rotterdam published research experiments that show that because so many women identified positively with the color pink that they go into a "state of denial" when it comes to associating the color with breast cancer.

The color pink is, quite simply, too relevant to the target market.

This is, of course, sending shockwaves in the industry. Not only is it forcing many people to rethink how the fight against breast cancer is branded, but also just what gender specific coloring does when it comes to marketing means.

Some evidence shows us that despite Puntoni's findings, the public reacts positively to breast cancer charities that there the color pink.

Moreover, the color is now unforgettable linked to the fight against breast cancer - so much so that some auto parts companies are in fact changing the color of their products to help in the fight.

At the same time, there is a cause out there called Think before You Pink that seems to seek to expose those companies that simply use the color pink to symbolically fight against breast cancer without doing anything of real value.

I think this type of initiative helps separate those brands that are really involved in the fight from those who are simply using an emotive color to sell a product.

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