Slogans: February 2008 Archives

There are two naming related trademark cases out there that have people smiling this morning. The first is a list on CNN of trademarked phrases from the recent past like “19-OOPS” and "Let's Get Ready to Rumble!" that are now off limits to anyone who wants to inject a little modern phraseology into their product naming because they have been trademarked.

paristhat'shot.gifMatt Sanchez points out that even the wordsmith Paris Hilton can “lay claim and monetize parts of the English language” for her phrase “that’s hot.”

The Traverse Legal blog thinks that trademarking your unique phrase “illustrates how some forethought can become profit down the road.” I have to agree.

I also think that New York street musician Robert Burck, a.k.a “the Naked Cowboy” might have a good case when he defends his mark against Mars for using his likeness in their advertising, not least because he seems to have actually taken out two registered trademarks on himself.


Dan Slater on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog asks what he needs to make this case, the answer actually being pretty simple. He needs to prove there is a likelihood of confusion between himself and his (trademarked and profitable) brand name and likeness, and the images in the advertisement. As Sunny Hostin points out on the CNN site, the Naked Cowboy may soon be able to afford “some very nice duds.”

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Hummer and Camel Reposition Their Brand Identity

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If your brand name starts to look unfashionable, the thing to do is relaunch it with some subtle differences.

The Camel cigarette brand has recently gotten its first makeover in a century, with revamped packaging that includes the words "Since 1913" and the tagline "Our best smoke ever" on direct marketing materials. At least they have kept Joe Camel in the crypt.
GM, on the other hand, has decided to focus attention away from the Hummer’s brand name by not only shrinking the car, but focusing on each vehicle’s alphanumeric code (H2, H3, H4). GM has also directed consumer’s attention to the utility of the vehicle with its new tagline "Purpose Built."SCOOTER+HUMMER.gif

In order to further distance itself from consumers who believe that it is a gas guzzling behemoth, GM has been shrinking the SUV as well, leading Oberdan Bezzi to design a Hummer Scooter, or the H2 450.

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Presidential Naming and Branding

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How the naming of presidential candidates affects voters is something I have written about before, but the subject seems to have caught on.
A recent Reuters article in the press compares the merits of the name Hillary with the name Barack, with one professor quoted as saying “names are brands.” I couldn't agree more, as does Patrick Ruffini, who claims that “we are living through the first Presidential campaign that is being marketed like a high-end consumer brand.”

This sentiment was echoed by one of my respondents on the blog, who led me to a wonderful article about how fonts and typography are communicating to the electorate.

Hillary is indeed not a common name and thus it sticks with you and it is clear that she is not frequently using her maiden name Rodham and separating herself from Bill by de-emphasizing the name Clinton.

Search Marketing Guru points out that Hillary has essentially taken over the name on the Internet altogether.
Obama, however, is getting star power play for his stand alone last name and he certainly does not like reminding voters that his middle name is Hussein.

Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani focused voter's attention on their first names while John McCain prefers running on his last name.

One blogger claims that Fred Thompson dropped out because voters could not stand the idea of a president named Fred just like they felt the name Bob Dole was, well, dull. Dennis Miller, for his part tells us that there is no way a man named Huckabee can take the White House: “It’s like having a President with the name QuickDraw McGraw.”

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Woolworth’s Lolita Brand Naming a Cynical “Mistake”

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The news that Woolworth's in the UK had to pull a bed with Lolita brand naming for pre-school girls has been met with hoots of laughter across the blogosphere after the company claimed to not be aware of the literary allusion to the sexually predatory pre-pubescent girl in Vladimir Nabokov’s famous novel, which was not only made into (at least) two movies but also referred to in the song “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by the Police.

Sorry, but it is difficult to believe that this was an inadvertent mistake, or that the brand naming was introduced without somebody raising an eyebrow.

Maybe, just maybe, the people who created the Filipino cookie in the Netherlands were unaware that there is an entire group of people out there who would be offended by a tagline like ‘Are you as Tasty as a Filipino?'

Fact is, brand naming for pre-teen girls has become a virtual porno playground. Bratz dolls (pictured below) are now flagrantly sexualized (and encourage the kids to be bratty) and Playboy is now making its way into school wear.
Blue Milk has a great blog talking about the corporate pedophilia that we are subjected to daily and the “billions of dollars of marketing aimed at kids whose childhoods are being cynically abbreviated, stolen for profit.”

But who really cares, right?

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John Moore’s Brand Autopsy blog has some wonderful Monday morning quarterbacking on the ads that ran on Superbowl Sunday, and I had to weigh in on Go Daddy’s efforts... just like many of Moore’s furious responders do.

Some backstory: Go Daddy had a very racy commercial rejected by Fox because it centered around a stripping Danica Patrick and the word “beaver,” which has a misogynistic sexual innuendo. They got free exposure by having nine others rejected as well.

So instead of unveiling their actual commercial on the air, the company’s Superbowl spot leads viewers to their website to watch the controversial ad.

They have also been airing a slightly less offensive advertisement that equated to registering domains on Go Daddy with a variety of sexual milestones.

The web version, which many believe was purposely made to get railroaded by Fox’s censors, has gotten fairly high rankings today: Alexander Wolfe at Information Week gives it a B+. And while Go Daddy swears the censor’s rejection was not planned, they have managed to drive lots of traffic to their web site — their objective, considering that’s where they do business.
What is bad is that they have forever associated the word “beaver” with their brand name and raised the ire of fifty percent of the online population, many of whom will spend this week convincing their employers to drop Go Daddy. Go Daddy’s CEO, Bob Parsons doesn’t really seem to care and is loving the attention, claiming that those who are offended are in the minority.

Maybe. Maybe not. But that's a pretty vocal group, as they should be.

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The Chenango-Delaware-Otsego region of New York state has been referred to as the Central Leatherstocking Region since the famous I Love NY marketing blitz was launched 31 years ago.

The name is in honor of the James Fennimore Cooper novels that are set in the region (The Leatherstocking Tales that include "Last of the Mohicans" and "The Deerslayer").
Now, the entire I Love NY campaign is getting a shot in the arm and the somewhat obscure naming for this region is looking at a revamp.

I am familiar with this area but the fact is that the average traveler is unlikely to understand the highly literary allusion.

This is an exceptionally beautiful and historic part of New York that boasts the Baseball Hall of Fame BASEBALLhalloffame.gifand the fabulous Glimmerglass Opera (both in Cooperstown).

It also has the best tagline I have ever heard for apple pie and cheddar cheese, a favorite dessert combo for upstate New Yorkers: "An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.”

I will be watching how events develop in this region with great interest.

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