F.A.T. chance for Wikipedia

Here it is, the 6th sign of The Apocolypse. Wikipedia has become a dumping ground for corporate p.r. (complete with logos):

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Forth & Towne is a brand of clothing stores that is owned by Gap Inc., which also owns the Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy brands. Forth & Towne focuses on women over 35 who grew up with the Gap brand, but have “lost touch” with it.

History

The brand was announced by Gap Inc. in September 2004, and has a planned lauch date sometime in Autumn 2005. At that point, Gap Inc. will begin a test phase of the new concept with four stores in the Chicago area, and one in New York . If successful, the company plans to add at least 50 additional stores in the United Kingdom, France , and Japan by the year 2007.

History??? What kind of header is that? It’s not even open yet, just a store that Gap plans on opening and it merits an entry in an encyclopedia? Not in one that wants to maintain its hard-won credibility.

Lest you think the Book of Revelation reference too heavy-handed, check out the number of search results returned here. There are no coincidences.

Oil for Chocolate?

m and m guyYou know it, you hate it, the writing is inane, the point of view insane. It’s the BP “Oil for Chocolate” ad:

Announcer: “What would you rather have, a cleaner environment or your car?”

Talent: “…asking someone to give up their car… that’s like asking them to give up chocolate, it’s just not going to happen”

Ummmmmmmm, no. Asking someone to give up their car is NOT like asking them to give up chocolate. If it were, the environment would be cleaner toot sweet. And the the m&m guys would have a price on their heads.

A Rove by any other name

Today’s Doonesbury is grabbing a lot of ink for using President Bush’s nickname for Karl Rove. We just don’t buy the explanation:

Why did Garry Trudeau use Karl Rove’s “Turd Blossom” nickname in Tuesday and Wednesday’s “Doonesbury” strips?

“Given that I’m writing for a general audience, I try not to use crude or vulgar language gratuitously,” replied Trudeau, after E&P e-mailed him several questions this afternoon. “But in this case, I felt that [President] Bush’s nickname for Rove was illuminating. ‘Turd blossom’ has so many connotations, none of them flattering. It’s a small masterpiece of nastiness.”

About 10 to 12 newspapers pulled or edited the “Turd Blossom” strips, according to an Associated Press story. Trudeau is OK with the pulling part, but not the editing part.

In today’s “Doonesbury” comic (which can be viewed here), an aide tells Bush: “Sir, we’re still getting pretty beat up on the Rove revelations. We can’t get traction on any other issue. It’s just the leak thing 24-7!” Bush responds: “Yeah, I know. Karl’s sure been earnin’ his nickname lately.” Aide: “Boy Genius? I’m not so sure, sir.” Bush then calls out to Rove: “Hey, Turd Blossom! Get in here!”

Does Trudeau think many newspaper editors and readers are aware that “Turd Blossom” is a real nickname for Bush’s close advisor, not one made up by the cartoonist?

“My assumption was twofold — that many people already knew it, and that most others would infer it was real from the way I teed it up,” said Trudeau. “I also felt that those in the latter group would be as tickled to learn of it as I was.”

This story is being covered by every major news source under the pretense of controversy: “About 10 to 12 newspapers pulled or edited the “Turd Blossom” strips, according to an Associated Press story.” That’s out of 1400 papers that carry the strip, or less than one percent. So why is this really a story?

Because America loves a good poop joke.

The cartoonist did say he was careful to limit himself to a couple of “Turd Blossom” mentions. “Twice seems enough for readers to enjoy,” he observed. “I don’t want to push my luck.”

Indeed, two turd blossoms in two days is generally considered a satisfying number, or at least one to aspire to.

Money for nothin’

The naming news from Singapore arrived today in a report from the Pakistan Daily Times, which was picked-up and blogged by Stefan in Iasi and sent “over the top” (Arctic route ) to us in Northern California. And boy is it tired…..

After spending S$400,000 ($240,964) to come up with a suitable new name for the revamped downtown Marina Bay, Singapore has decided to stick to, well, Marina Bay, media reports said Friday.

The city-state’s urban development authorities and global branding company Interbrand spent months deliberating over 400 potential names before settling on the original moniker, according to the Today newspaper. The $400,000 financed a massive branding exercise that involved market tests, focus group discussions and consultations with developers and the general public, Today said.

Finding the right name for the city-state’s revised downtown, which will include the much-debated resort casino, a new business district and swanky retail outlets, was a process akin to parents deciding on a name for their child, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan.

We take a lot of shots at suspect naming and branding results, but must say the above has to be the piece of work out of Interbrand that we most respect.

If you don’t believe us, try this on for size. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Actually, that last one has to be a close second.

Sex and the single mouse

The sex appeal of the Apple brand is intoxicating, but they are walking around with a single long streamer of tissue stuck to the bottom of their shoe – the single-button mouse.

We just unboxed some new iMac G5’s, and right there, right next to the most beautiful, intuitive computer ever fashioned, was that annoying piece of has-been technology. So now, like most Mac users, we have swapped out Apple’s mice for two-button models w/ scroll wheels (old Dell’s!), breaking the Apple brandscape before us.

What is Apple clinging to with the single-button mouse? An iconic design with a lot of brand legacy, for sure. But since this mouse is the one part of the experience that falls short, the part that shouts, “Yesterday!”, and unnecessarily so, the brand equity cost is too high. This mouse needs to find a new house.

I want my…?

MTV’s much anticipated “competitor to iTunes” presents an interesting naming puzzle. What do you name a service that will pull together the multicultural audience of MTV’s 100 plus global television stations, not to mention their CMT and VH1 viewers? What do you need to do to name a music downloading service that must have a bit of the MTV edge, yet still intrigue classical music fans worldwide? Hold onto your fat, apparently you call Igor ( we don’t get it either).

Some of the finest time we have ever spent on the corporate teat was on this job, but now the weaning must begin, as the results are in, the job is done, and a sippy cup will have to do. . . But hot damn, that’s one fine name. Stay tuned, right now we’ve got some refrigerators that need moving.

Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione

Deep Freeze Nine weighs-in on Microsoft’s new OS tagline, “Clear, Confident, Connected: Bringing Clarity to your World”. Actually, the clunkatude fits nicely with, “Our software does stuff that helps your potential reach its full inspiration by giving you the ability to…”, or whatever the heck it is.

And a New York Times article offers this nugget about Windows Vista, the new OS name:

The name was chosen after eight months of research and focus groups because it “captures the idea of clarity,” the company said.

Apparently we’ve been officially refuted: naming is rocket science, after all. Now it’s all becoming clear to us.

Delawhere?

We just got an interesting job that requires traveling to Wilmington a time or two over the next ten weeks. Much to our chargrin, we know very little about the place, at least about things that matter, like this:

Coffee Milk is the official State Drink. Coffee Milk is similar to chocolate milk but is made with coffee syrup. A coffee “cabinet” is coffee milk with ice cream (a coffee flavored milk shake). The main ingredient of this shake is “coffee milk,” first introduced to Rhode Islanders in the early 1920’s. Coffee milk became so popular in Rhode Island that in 1993 the Rhode Island state legislature voted coffee milk as the official state drink.

Oh wait, that’s Rhode Island. See the problem? Here’s one, did you know that in addition to a state motto, state flower, state bird, etc, Delaware is the only state with an official state macroinvertebrate? Check it out:

On May 4, 2005, the Stonefly (Order Plecoptera) was designated as Delaware’s State macroinvertebrate, because it is an indicator of the excellent water quality in the State. The designation of the stonefly was a means whereby Delaware State government could recognize the importance of excellent water quality and the vital role played by healthy aquatic ecosystems in Delaware. Designating a State macroinvertebrate is a highly appropriate means to raise public awareness of water quality issues, and complement citizen action programs like Delaware Stream Watch.

It’s insider information like this that will make or break our Delaware experience. If anybody has any tips on local slang, where to eat and lodge, or most importantly where not to buy drugs, post a comment.

And since we don’t want our own state to lag behind in its branding efforts, we hereby nominate Landor to be California’s official invertebrate. The petition will circulate shortly.

Stupid Girl

It doesn’t get much worse than this. There is a new fashion brand name on the horizon, and it is one of the best examples of clueless desperation that we have had the misfortune to fumble across. The press release spews the following:

Precious Marlowe, a successful New York-based hedge fund executive, recently launched a hot new apparel and lifestyle brand, TwattyGirl. The collection, designed for independent, sexy, bold, outspoken women from 18-45, is inspired by the main character, TwattyGirl, in Marlowe’s forthcoming novel – “Bulletproof –Things Twattygirl Told You, But You Didn’t Want to Hear.” TwattyGirl does not allow herself to be defined by society’s conventional ideas of what a woman should be and how she should act. She makes her own rules and lives by the TwattyGirl manifesto – “sexy, bold, outspoken – TwattyGirl is the essence of a woman with attitude.”

The essence of an 18-to-45 year old woman with attitude? Try 12-to-15 with a huffing habit. This name will appeal only to those same kids who wish they could find Cliffs notes for the Abercrombie catalog. Via Lucian James.

Phallus’s Restaurant

San Francisco Bay Area matchmaker “Table for Six” has an intriguing name that demonstrates a difference:

After many successful years in the singles industry we have proven that six people brought together in a comfortable environment is the perfect number for a dining experience. Hence our well recognized name Table for Six™. With six suitably matched members; conversation flows, friendship and romance blossom. Having six people can also provide a sense of security in a new environment. In a six format, the chances of meeting a new friend to go places with, or that “someone special” are increased threefold!

The fact that locals lovingly refer to the company as “Table for Sex” makes the whole thing that much more viral. (Not in that way, silly, in a good way)

Daryl K. again the dernier cri

Daryl K is back, according to today’s NY Times. And good for her, she has to be the nicest person in the biz. Her label is re-launching their mysteriously named K189 product line. Forget the Time’s explanation of the name. Here is the real story.

Ms. Kerrigan’s first address in NYC was 234 East 2nd Street (I lived in the same tiny building at the time). Remove “East” from the address and you are left with 2342. Her first store was at 208 East 6th Street, again, remove the “East” and you are left with 2086. Subtract the second number from the first thusly: 2342-2086=256. Take the result and subtract 64, the year she was born, and you are left with 192. Oh yeah, she lived on the 3rd floor on 2nd Street, so subract three and there you are.

Well, the addresses are correct anyway. The actual explantion is in the article.

Up in Boston, fashion hardhead Cam Brown enters his 20th year in a crusade to win a 30 dollar bet by stubbornly wearing a blue shirt and khaki pants every single day for 40 years.

Tangled up in blue

I lost my Amex Blue card at JFK last weekend, and when I called to report it I was told a replacement would be issued in “about 20 days”. The following conversation ensued:

Me: 20 days? (the American Express tag line is “the only card you’ll ever need”) My other Amex cards arrive in 24 hours when replaced.

Amex: The Blue card has a special chip inside that takes longer to produce.

Me: What purpose does the chip serve?

Amex: It provides you with greater security for online transactions, sir.

Me: But when I order online, I type my credit card number into a form, so how does a chip, which the computer never comes in contact with..

Amex: It’s for online security. Is there anything else I can help you with today, sir?

Me: Yes. You can help me understand how a chip embedded in a credit card, a card that is not inserted into anything, makes any difference.

Amex: Sir, I’ve already explained that the chip is for enhanced security purposes when making purchases online. Is there anything else I can assist you with today?

Me: Is there any way to get a replacement card sooner?

Amex: We can send you a temporary card tomorrow morning.

Me: What is temporary about it?

Amex: It doesn’t have the chip.

Me: Should I use it to make purchases on the Internet?

Amex: That’s up to you sir.

Intrigued, I called the application line for Amex Blue. The very nice woman asked me if i had any questions about the card before applying..

Me: What’s the chip for?

Amex: It’s for enhanced security online.

Me: How so?

Amex: (giggling)They don’t tell us that.

The Blue card is the only Amex card with a limit, meaning that its theft causes the least damage of all Amex cards, yet it is the lone card with the “enhanced security chip”.

The Blue chip is causing damage to the American Express brand on several levels:

1. 20 day delay is the opposite of the brand positioning they have carefully built

2. lack of a script they have equipped their employees with doesn’t inspire confidence

3. the chip comes off as a silly marketing ploy that only serves to inconvenience customers

American Express needs to either create a well defined and logical explanation of the benefit of the Blue card’s unique on-board microprocessor, or cash this chip in.