April 13, 2010

Is It 2 Thousand & 10 or Twenty-Ten or the 1st of 10?


By Tim McHale

Happy Twenty Ten or whatever you choose to call it. It's the 1st of the "Tens" decade

Now is a good time to consider if you will refer to 2010 as 2 thousand and 10 or Twenty ten. Choose wisely because the naming convention phraseology may be with us for at least the next 10 years. Though it sounds trivial someone along the way may find a way to make money off it. 20th Century Fox is but one example. 2001, A Space Odyssey is another. It's called a naming-rights deal.


The New York Times reports that without a naming-rights deal, the new stadium that will house the Jets and the Giants starting next season will be called "The New Meadowlands Stadium, a blah-yet-refreshing reminder of the era before names like the Invesco, Reliant, Ford, Lucas Oil, Gillette, Qwest, FedEx and Heinz adorned N.F.L. homes. For the Giants and the Jets, finding a naming-rights buyer for the new stadium will take time. The market has been largely dormant and may never return to its prerecession peak, when Citigroup agreed in late 2006 to pay the Mets $400 million over 20 years to name the team's ballpark "Citi Field" and Barclays followed soon after with a similarly priced deal to put its moniker on the Nets' proposed arena in Brooklyn.

Some brand names stick, some don't and some that stick mean something else. In the ad world sometimes that's good or not so good.

Take the old and new Blackglama campaign. Is the ad below a Blackglama, a Judy Garland or a Warhol ad? In any case they spent millions on trying to get people to remember to use their name to answer the question "What becomes a legend most?"

They spent millions in an attempt to persuade people against using its real name, a mink skin, or in pre PETA days, a mink coat. The campaign worked though not the way they wanted. People remembered the question, not the answer.


Also in the Times is news that Robert Downey Jr's in his new movie, Sherlock Holmes can be expected to "own" the famous sleuth's name for its inevitable sequels, much like Toby McGuire is Spiderman and Tom Cruise is Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible 47. If Arnold is terminated at the polls, he'll probably come back as the Terminator. If they make another "Pirates," Johnny Depp will be Captain Jack Sparrow. These people have learned that if the naming rights brand ain't broke, don't fix it. Alex Baldwin found out the hard way. He had the Jack Ryan role nailed in Red October until he sunk the deal due to too much monetary baggage.


James Bond is another story. We've gone through 5 personalities now, though the fictional name, not the actor is remembered. Perhaps this is due to Ian Fleming's series of books, which were published years before "Bond, James Bond" became larger than life in person and on the screen.

Any copywriter worth their salt knows that once in a blue moon the big idea will come. The question is where will it go? Words are a copywriter's stock in trade. In the OOH (out of home) media, if you don't get the 1 or 2 or at most 5 words right, your idea will stay on the billboard board, versus it getting picked up like a hitchhiker and manifested into the drivers and passengers minds when they glanced at the ad at 65+ MPH.


Facts are stubborn things. So are images and phrases once they are built into the audience's subconscious, which is why depending on what sticks, we'll be referring to 2011 next year as 2 thousand & 11 or Twenty eleven and so on and so forth.


According to Wikipedia, the following list contains marks which were originally legally protected trademarks, but which have subsequently lost legal protection as trademarks by becoming the common name of the relevant product or service, as used both by the consuming public and commercial competitors. Some marks retain trademark protection in certain countries despite being declared generic in others.

Call me irresponsible - call me unreliable
Throw in undependable too
Do my foolish alibis bore you?
Well I'm not too clever - I just adore you

Aspirin - Still a Bayer trademark name for acetylsalicylic acid in about 80 countries, including Canada and many countries in Europe, but declared generic in the U.S.

Cellophane - Originally a trademark of DuPont.

Dry ice - Trademarked by the Dry Ice Corporation of America in 1925.

E-mail - claimed by CompuServe in a 1983 Byte Magazine ad

Escalator - Originally a trademark of Otis Elevator Company.

Freeware - Trademarked in the early 1980s by Andrew Fluegelman, but the trademark status was abandoned following Fluegelman's disappearance and presumed death.

Heroin - Trademarked by Friedrich Bayer & Co in 1898.

Hoover - This is a trademarked product from the Hoover Company, North Canton, Ohio. Its popularity, mainly in the United Kingdom, led to vacuum cleaners being referred to as Hoovers.

Lanolin - Trademarked as the term for a preparation of sheep fat and water.

Linoleum - Floor covering, originally coined by Frederick Walton in 1864, and ruled as generic following a lawsuit for trademark infringement in 1878; probably the first product name to become a generic term.


Mimeograph - Originally trademarked by Albert Dick.

Netbook - Originally used to describe Psion's netBook, trademark was legally cancelled in 2009 following a trademark cancellation case.

Thermos - Originally a Thermos GmbH trademark name for a vacuum flask; declared generic in the U.S. in 1963.

Touch-tone - Dual tone multi-frequency telephone signaling; AT&T states "formerly a trademark of AT&T".

Trampoline - Originally trademarked by George Nissenfor the generic "rebound tumbler."

Videotape - Originally trademarked by Ampex Corporation, an early manufacturer of audio and video tape recorders.

Webster's Dictionary - The publishers with the strongest link to the original are Merriam-Webster, but they have a trademark only on "Merriam-Webster", and other dictionaries are legally published as "Webster's Dictionary".

Yo-Yo - Still a Papa's Toy Co. Ltd. trademark name for a spinning toy in Canada, but declared generic in the U.S. in 1965.

ZIP code - Originally registered as a servicemark but has since expired.

Zipper - Originally a trademark of B.F. Goodrich.


According to Wikipedia, here is a list of protected trademarks frequently used as generic terms. Marks in this list are still legally protected as trademarks, but are sometimes used by consumers in a generic sense. Unlike the names in the list above, these names are still widely known by the public as brand names, and are not used by competitors. Scholars disagree as to whether the use of a recognized trademark name for similar products can truly be called "generic", or if it is instead a form of synechdoche.

Adrenalin - Parke-Davis

AstroTurf - Monsanto Company

Band-Aid - Johnson & Johnson

ChapStick Wyeth Consumer Healthcare

Coke - The Coca-Cola Company... like duh!

Crock-Pot - Rival Industries

Cuisinart - Conair


Dictaphone - Nuance Communications

Formica - Fletcher Building

Frisbee - Wham-O

Hula hoop - Wham-O

Jacuzzi - The Jacuzzi Corp.

Jeep - Chrysler

Jell-O - Kraft Foods

Jet Ski - Kawasaki

JumboTron - Sony Corporation

Kool-Aid - Kraft Foods Company

Kleenex - Kimberly-Clark

Matchbox - Mattel

Muzak - Muzak Holdings


Onesies - Gerber Products Company

Photoshop - Adobe Systems

Ping Pong - Parker Brothers

Polaroid - Polaroid Corporation

Popsicle - Good Humor-Breyers

Post-its - 3M

PowerPoint - Microsoft

Q-tips - Unilever

Rollerblade - Nordica

Scotch tape - 3M

Sharpie - Newell Rubbermaid

Styrofoam - Dow Chemical Company

Super Heroes - DC comics Marvel Comics

Tarmac - Tarmac Inc.

Vaseline - Unilever

Velcro - Velcro company

Walkman - Sony Corporation

WaveRunner - Yamaha Motor Company

Windex - S. C. Johnson & Son

Winnebago - Winnebago Industries

Wite-Out - Societe Bic

Xerox - Xerox - In the history of technology there is no stronger name grabbed on to than this one. They were first movers in the photocopier category. Even today, with hardly a fraction of category share, people still refer to photocopying a piece of paper as "Xeroxing it." There is no question that was name unpredictable.

Call me unpredictable - tell me I'm impractical
Rainbows I'm inclined to pursue
Call me irresponsible - yes I'm unreliable
But it's undeniably true - I'm irresponsibly mad for you.


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