Have you ever seen an online ad appear for “Discount Airline Fares” while reading an article about a plane crash? How about an ad for scuba lessons served up next to a news account of a shark attack? It’s because ad placement software works solely on keyword recognition. Or that’s the way it has worked until now.
Textwise hired Igor to create the name for its revolutionary new online advertising technology that can actually tell the difference between good and bad contextual matches, and that name is Shinola. Says Textwise:
Shinola is a contextual ad placement solution that automatically matches highly relevant advertisements (product descriptions) to web content generated from Trainable Semantic Vectors (TSVs). Trainable Semantic Vectors are a major breakthrough in representing and analyzing textual information.
Until now, reliable semantic analysis always came at the expense of scalability. Shinola is the first and only product placement technology that is accurate enough to capture semantic meaning, fast enough to power real-time applications, automated enough to maintain in dynamic environments, and scalable enough to handle web-sized problems.
The name Shinola originated as an early- to mid-20th century American brand of shoe polish. But its lasting fame derives from a still well-known expression, as Wikipedia notes:
Its immortality in colloquial English comes from its use in such alliterative phrases as [He] doesn't know shit from Shinola. Implied is that shit and Shinola, while superficially similar, are quite different in effect when applied to shoes or carelessly stepped in. One who fails to distinguish one from the other is therefore notably unwise or of substandard mental ability. The phrase is famously uttered, and demonstrated, in the 1979 Carl Reiner film, The Jerk, starring Steve Martin.
Similar meaning can be found in the expression, He doesn't know his ass from his elbow, or the variant, He doesn't know his ass from a hole in the wall/ground.
When naming a groundbreaking product that has the potential to completely change how an industry operates, anything short of a strongly evocative name that also maps directly to the core product function would detract from the brand's power. The advertising-centric metaphor of shoe polish and putting a shine on a product provides additional layers of depth and consumer connectivity. Our client wanted a viral, self-propelling name that would minimize the need for an advertising and P.R. budget, and they got one.