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November 21, 2006 | Tate Linden
I've been on a bit of a tear lately about naming contests. I've been pointing out that it is great PR, but poor business practice to leave your name to a popular vote. You can check the past two days on this blog for more in that vein... needless to say, I'm not a fan.

I had, however, assumed that the naming contest was ideally suited for things like zoo animal naming contests. Why? Because a contest draws attention to the fact that there's a baby animal. People like baby animals. People give money to see baby animals. People tend not to give money to see middle-aged or old animals when not in the immediate vicinity of a baby animal.

So... naming contest involving baby animal = free press = increased donations and interest.

Apparently there are people who disagree with me. One person claimed that an elephant naming contest ended in - I kid you not - tragedy. The poor animal shall for ever be associated with fast food.

This brings up a point related to something suggested by Jeffry Pilcher of Weber Marketing. What happens if the winning name isn't liked by the organization. This is actually a very real concern. Assume that you have a half-dozen or so finalists. The chance of any one name getting more than half the vote is pretty slim - and the majority of people who participate in the voting will have had their favorite name eliminated. Not only is the organization at risk of disliking the name... the majority of the intended audience won't like it either!

Let's hear it for brand-building through massive alienation!

(Will someone please knock me upside the head so I can get off this topic?)

Tate Linden Principal Consultant Stokefire Consulting Group 703-778-9925
5 Comments
Jeffry Pilcher November 30, 2006 6:22 PM

I like a man on a rant, so no, I won't pull you from the ledge. :)

That's a good point about alienation. It's yet another reason Weber Marketing Group discourages our clients from naming contests. One winner and 4,000 losers. And no one likes being a loser. They all walk around for the next five years mumbling about how their name "was so much better....phhbbbt."

Tate Linden December 1, 2006 11:15 AM

Damn straight!
I still am bitter that my suggestion for the now-named "Washington Wizards" was ignored by the powers that be.
That entry?
THE WASHINGTON COURT
How's that for deep? Links to all sorts of good copywriting ideas...
Surpreme Court (when they win)

The Court Hands Down a Decision

High Court (for the inevitable drug busts)

Courting Destiny (when they make the finals)

Court-ship

Court Court (the court they play on? Hey, it works for Boutros Boutros, so why not?_
I think it was the first name I'd ever come up with. It'd have taken a whole lot of moxy to actually use it since there's no other team that I could find with a similar name.
But enough about me...

Jeffry Pilcher December 1, 2006 12:21 PM

I like the name, and all its attending plays-on-words.

FYI - You used the expression, "It'd have taken a whole lot of MOXY..." That idiomatic saying is derived from the name of an old beverage known as "Moxie Soda."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moxie

It seems that Moxie, a drink that had a somewhat bitter taste, was the historical equivalent of "energy drinks" today like Red Bull. So if someone had more than one Moxie Soda, or if someone was just generally hyper/spastic, they were said to "have a lot of Moxie."

You can still buy Moxie Soda today.

Tate Linden December 1, 2006 1:43 PM

I'll be damned.
Nice story... (Wish I hadn't had to share my ignorance with the world to learn it, but it was still worth the price.)
Thanks for letting me know!

Jeffry Pilcher December 1, 2006 9:44 PM

np - I didn't know this before last night, when I watched a Discovery Channel show on "the history of sodas." I tried to Google it for a more concrete link to substantiate the story, but I was lazy and only put about 90 seconds into it. :)