I think we’re moving past pink and frilly to encouraging full-on addiction:

comfort wine

Comfort wine / it’s anodyne /it’s not going to tax your palate / it’s just going to slide down your gullet!

Don’t get me wrong – I like my wine just fine, though two glasses are about my limit these days. But I’m midway through this excellent memoir of alcoholic life by Sarah Hepola, and really do think that some of the mommy wine marketing can be seductively destructive. Plus, I’m a wine snob, so trumpeting a chardonnay’s sweetness through the “custard” designation is never going to appeal.

I couldn’t even bring myself to buy it to determine if “custard” was accurate, because I was too embarrassed to be seen buying “comfort wine,” even for research purposes!

 

As if the placement of this display of paperware right in between Manischewitz matzo and Gefen tuna in the Passover aisle of my local King Sooper’s weren’t sufficiently offensive, check out the brand name of the paper products:

Across from what

I’m guessing that the store’s large Orthodox customer base won’t let the display remain there for long. As far as the brand name, though – that’s sheer coincidence.

Women, that is. And in light of today’s high-stakes oral argument in the Supreme Court over access to abortion , I am posting again because Ithink it worthwhile to highlight this excellent marketing campaign for an IUD:

SKYLA

SKYLA as a mark is youthful, calling to mind the (IMHO incomprehensible but whatever) millennial craze for the name “Skylar” (and its equally icky spelling variants). But what I really like here is the “Plans prioritized” tagline. It’s an alliterative tribute to Planned Parenthood, while at the same time being nicely communicative.

Reproductive rights are human rights, and I am hopeful the Supremes will continue to recognize that fact and turn the states away from their march to the back alleys of the past.

Doesn’t this ad really just say “hey, ladies, it’s okay to drink alone?”

Santa Margherita

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but why not make it explicit rather than a hidden message on a bottle?

The big island of Hawaii: Hiking through Volcanoes National Park on ground younger than I am; unbelievable fresh fish; whale watching; the rainbow of tropical fish visible to even the novice snorkeler … basically, it’s paradise.

Also, if you forgot your own, you can buy or rent one, apparently:

AllAboutBabies

You would think that in naming a product, maybe it would be wise to avoid a euphemism for excrement, right? Seems like that’s a basic proposition that everyone can agree on, right? Well, apparently you’d be wrong. I don’t know why these folks chose CAcafe as their trademark, but I can promise you that capitalizing the first two letters doesn’t stop me from seeing the caca here:

cacafe

Apparently, others are on to the caca too.

 

 

Sometimes you honestly don’t know where product brand names come from, especially if you’re a bargain shopper like I am and you frequent off-brand, low price establishments like TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning (the latter of which makes me really feel like I’m slumming it). So often at such stores it’s a challenge to separate the wheat from the knockoff chaff. So when I saw this one I was pretty confident it was chaff:

GELA

Where do I begin? Well, how about Sicily? Gela is a small city on the southwest coast of Sicily that is the home of a huge oil refinery. Which therefore makes it the Secaucus of Sicily, and Gela is only prettier because – hey – Sicily v. New Jersey in a cage fight isn’t even remotely fair.

Thus, having been to Gela, I can’t ever consider it a lovely brand name for any product. And I figure that any company that named its product Gela had never been to Gela, and if they weren’t smart enough to research the name of a pretty town in Sicily – of which there are many – for their product, then I can’t trust them to make a product that is worth my investment.

Not sure if everyone else views things my way, but I’m sticking to it!

Catching up again … Great trademarks, in my view, suggest something interesting about the product they’re designating, without telling the consumer exactly what the product is. These two magazine names are among the best I’ve ever seen:

sift

This is King Arthur Flour’s magazine, and I can’t think of a more evocative name to convey the magazine’s mission – to provide baking information and inspiration. SIFT is an example of a mark that, while it is indeed descriptive of a microscopic and discrete aspect of the goods/services identified, nonetheless effectively communicates something evocative about what it identifies, yet without describing what the goods are.

So all hail King Arthur for SIFT!

In a different vein, we have LUCKY PEACH:

lucky peach

What a great magazine name! At best all I can get from the title is that it might have something to do with food; when I look up their website I see a standard food and cooking site. Yet at the same time, any website that runs a feature on the snackability of Trader Joe’s offerings is right up my alley. So as a brand junkie, I can state with confidence that I am far more likely to grab an issue of LUCKY PEACH off the rack at Whole Foods than I am to pick up Real Simple or Bon Appétit.

Don’t get me wrong – as the daughter of a charter subscriber to both New York and Automobile magazines, I understand the value of a descriptive name for a magazine. But sometimes, breaking free from descriptiveness can work for a magazine, I promise!

Apologies for the hiatus. Getting daughter #2 into college is no less time-consuming than #1 was. Stay tuned.

So here’s something from a weekend in Ventura, California this summer:

wienerschnitzel

Crappy photography, but it’s Wienerschnitzel, “The World’s Largest Hot Dog Chain.” Ummm, isn’t Wiener Schnitzel that delicious dish of breaded and pounded veal made famous in Vienna (hence Wiener)? Why yes it is. How did we get from veal to drive-through hot dogs? Well, we borrowed wiener for hot dog long ago and its use was made ubiquitous in the Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle that pretty much anyone of a certain generation can sing start to finish. I am guessing that this is one of those situations where Americans hear a certain foreign phrase and use it irrespective of whether it means what they think it means. That is, they hear wiener and know they’ve heard wienerschnitzel so assume the two are related and why not name the wiener joint something that sounds foreign?

Well, they are related, but from a trademark perspective I actually think the name is deceptively misdescriptive! If I see a place called Wienerschnitzel, because I know what real Wiener Schnitzel is, I’m going to be disappointed when I find there’s none on the menu. But once again, I suspect I’m not the target demographic. And what those who haven’t tasted the real thing don’t know won’t hurt them.

 

Nancy Friedman has long deplored the trend of companies adopting newfangled and often ridiculous-to-pronounce or -spell names (Hello S’Moretgage). There are some companies, however, that in my humble opinion could use a bit of updating. One that comes to mind immediately is Tacoma Screw Products, long the butt of jokes from Seattle Times columnist Ron Judd (one thing I do miss about Seattle). Because, really, when your name is that hilarious the derision can far outweigh the value of the name’s communicative nature.

The same goes for this company, captured in pixels by my cousin Nancy (not to be confused with the earlier-cited Nancy):

Cleveland Vibrator

Oh dear … On the bright side, however, the first page of Google search of the company brings up only family-friendly (or I should say, “industry-friendly”) listings. I decided not to forge on, however.

You do have to feel for these companies that incorporate descriptive terms that have an unfortunate second meaning into their names – and then you can continue to laugh like you’re twelve again!

 

With the usual apologies for the blogging drought, where has summer gone, etc. etc.

Now, I haven’t broken out the ladybrain in some time, but the skyrocketing popularity of rosé wine offers a few more names that skew feminine or girly. Here’s one that was a pleasant surprise despite its packaging:

Wild Thing rose

The name, the flowers, the “Rendezvous Rosé” blend name – all suggest a weekend without kids, or a bachelorette party, or something otherwise trivial and feminized. Yet this wine is a delicious and spicy but dry carignane blend, and at only 13.5% alcohol it complemented our slapdash dinner nicely but could easily stand on its own as an aperitif.

 

Spotted in Denmark: Two brands that fall into the category that Nancy Friedman calls “imperative-verb business names.” I like to call them hortatory marks.

The first is the fabulous hotel we stayed in, STAY Copenhagen. No, the name wouldn’t work in the US. “Where’d you stay?” “STAY.” “No, I asked you.” You get the picture. No matter, it was a fantastic sleek, Danish modern (duh) hotel where they upgraded us to the penthouse suite for no apparent reason, and where we luxuriated in style with views of the up-and-coming neighborhood and the river. Not to mention the heartbreakingly attractive staff and the cute grocery store downstairs with fresh strawberries to die for … Okay, I digress. But STAY plays cute with its name, as you can see here on the Do Not Disturb sign:

stay copenhagen

And if you plunk around on its website, you’ll see they really leverage the “stay” wording, in a way that I’d hate for a US trademark client but can be much more permissive about where English doesn’t reign entirely supreme.

In the same imperative vein, we were exhorted to have lunch at Yo! Sushi at the Copenhagen airport:

yo sushi

My reaction? More like Yo! I’m still hungry but I have no money left!

 

 

Our beloved 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Sexauer (I kid you not!) is responsible for probably fully half of my prodigious vocabulary. Every week he assigned a list of spelling and vocabulary words from the book we were reading, and we dutifully memorized those definitions verbatim.* So when I was uploading this photo and considering what to write in light of my scatology theme, I had a flashback to one of those tests:

rump lyft

Yes, that’s right: Eschatology – “the study of great ends.”

Thanks, folks, I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your server.

_______________________
* I’m really not kidding. To wit: “Epigram – witty pointed saying.” “Sophistry – unsound series of clever-sounding reasoning.” “Atavistic – return to the primitive.” Mr. S generally presented the definition of this last one by jumping down on all fours underneath an unwitting student’s desk. There truly was nothing like 10th grade honors English at Fox Lane High School back in the 70s.

 

know, right? Not Paris, not Sicily. The Levys are branching out! We took advantage of Volvo’s spectacular overseas delivery program to visit Denmark and Sweden, and we were not disappointed. (Except by the rain and cold. If I never see a certain v-necked gray sweater of mine again, it’ll be too soon.) Great food, scenery, museums, and people. The language, not so much; devoted readers know what a language whiz kid I think I am, but Swedish and Danish? Just impenetrable.

Still, there was entertaining/scatological branding galore. First on the list? This charming hat shop in Copenhagen:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Is that just like a small fart? I can’t even begin to guess, because the language, as I said, is impenetrable.

Next, also in Copenhagen, we have an impenetrable carshare slogan:

Smart i en fart

But funny, of course, because I’m twelve.

Next stop, a 7-11 at a gas station on the highway in Sweden, where we drove our new Volvo to visit my husband’s college roommate. (Think “Welcome to Sweden” but in reverse. Sort of.) And though we really had to get back on the road, I honestly could’ve spent all day savoring product names … like this one:

PLOPP

And this men’s shop was closed when we walked by, thus suggesting it didn’t live up to its name:

STAYHARD

That’s the entertaining start to our Scandinavian odyssey; more to come!

Edited to add that Funny Or Die has already made the Fart Car a reality. (H/t my friend Leslie at Blythe’s Blog!)