I feel like I ought to explain the whole Wii thing. Yes, it’s puerile, but that’s incidental. Anusol and Flatulex aren’t particularly funny because the brands reflect what the product is really about; but when you name a video game system after something from the bathroom, then it’s funny. Context. That’s what makes Mike Meyers’ jokes about Preparation-H funny; it’s in an inappropriate context.
I love mocking stupid corporate branding. I found it funny when we were sitting in a bagel shop in Cambridge and saw an Internet terminal branded “NetPecker“; the company went bust, surprise surprise. Otis Spunkmeyer describe their name as “fun and memorable”. Well, yes, sniggering at Spunkmeyer iced brownies is fun, I guess.
Branding disasters don’t have to be bathroom-related to be funny, though. It was stupid for the UK Post Office to rename themselves Consignia; they renamed themselves back a year later. Dumber was the UK railway company that had the stupid idea of naming themselves “One”. Station announcements for the 9:30 One train to London caused confusion, and they had to rename themselves again. Both companies were mocked, deservedly. Childish?
I’m pretty sure renaming PriceWaterhouseCoopers Consulting wasn’t a bad idea, but picking “Monday” as the new name was. The only thing that saved them from professional ridicule was being bought by IBM, who immediately killed the whole “Monday” thing.
Would you believe that a company is trying to sell dog and cat food under the brand name BARF? (Do they sell Kitten BARF and Puppy BARF?) Who at Coca-Cola thought that naming their new drink “Zero” was a good idea? “BlaK” was bad enough, especially at the start when they put a line over the ‘a’ suggesting that it was pronounced “Blake”. (They’ve now changed it to a Coke swoosh.)
Internet branding is full of stupidity. Remember when Palm renamed themselves pa1mOne? (Hint: any brand that’s 1337sp34k is stupid.) I can’t see Samsung’s WiBro taking off, fo’shizzle. And on a more trivial note, what possessed C|net to make all their URLs look like alt.cnet.swedish-chef.bork.bork.bork? And the less said about Oui Oui Bebe the better.
Of course, it wasn’t Yeslam Bin Ladin’s fault that his plans for Bin Ladin branded perfume and clothing were ruined, but would you buy a Studebaker Dictator? I guess dictators were all the rage a hundred years ago, and you can still buy Autocrat coffee, though the Aryan supermarket chain Purity Supreme is no longer with us, having been bought by the shrewd but dull brand Stop’n'Shop.
Would you rub Nad’s on your body? Even with the apostrophe, it’s still a terrible brand name. Every time I see Nasalcrom I think of Conan the Barbarian; what do you think Zim’s Crack Creme is for? Worse still is POOLIFE®. Terrible. I can’t believe they went as far as registering it, let alone writing it in all caps.
Magazines pick silly names too. Self, the magazine about the person you love the most. Heeb, the magazine for Jews, current issue “The money issue”. Back in the 80s, Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky joked about a magazine for conspiracy theorists called Popular Paranoia, and now it exists. And at least Crochet Fantasy didn’t decide to call themselves Crochet Rocket.
So is it childish to laugh at such things? Perhaps, but people do it all the time. Childish jokes about sucking on a Fisherman’s Friend have been around for decades. Foreign Engrish remains a source of amusement to thousands. Yes, English isn’t their first language; but even if you’re Japanese or Spanish, you ought to check what your company name might mean in English.
Unfortunately, Nintendo fanboys get all bent out of shape and puritanical when you start mocking their favorite video game company’s products. Perhaps it has something to do with the way the GameCube has been dismissed as a “kiddy game” console for years?
Anyhow, the Nintendo Wiinies are now theorizing that it’s all a cunning publicity stunt, and that the real name for Wii will be revealed next week. Maybe Wii is intentionally awful, like Dogfish Head Golden Shower beer.
I’m doubtful; Japanese companies have a knack for bad product names. Even video game companies—consider Irritating Stick and Radiata Stories. (“I was bleeding the valve one time when scalding water shot out over the carpet…”)
I hope for Nintendo’s sake that that the publicity stunt theory is true. I mean, really, I have nothing against Nintendo—I own a GameCube—and the last thing they need is to attach a childishly silly name to their new console.
And if you want to flame me or call me childish, first tell me you didn’t laugh at any of the above. I’ll tell you that you need a sense of humor.