I don’t know how to put this delicately: I’m being followed by Hiscox.
Whose cox? you may well ask. (Also: plural?)
Allow me to explain.
I first noticed an ad for Hiscox on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago. I’d never heard of the company, so I clicked on the ad to check out the Hiscox website. In no time at all, thanks to the miracle of retargeting, I began seeing Hiscox everywhere. On retail sites. On Slate. On the New York Times home page.
What sort of business is Hiscox in? “Specialist insurance and reinsurance for businesses and individuals with unusual and often complicated insurance needs.” The company is traded on the London Stock Exchange but incorporated and headquartered in Bermuda. It operates in 11 countries. Big-time, serious stuff.
So why was I giggling?
Well, wouldn’t you?
I’ll try to keep a straight face just long enough to explain that Hiscox is the surname of the company’s founder, Ralph Hiscox, and of its current president, the splendidly named Robert Ralph Scrymgeour Hiscox. It’s a very old surname, if this genealogy site is to be trusted (and it pays to be skeptical about most online genealogy sites)—as in Norman Conquest old. It’s derived, I learned, from Hitch, “a pet form of the name Richard,” and cock, “a medieval form of endearment” (hmm).
To sum up: a variation on Dick Cocks.
Swordsman Hiscox. Ladies and gentlemen, I could not make this stuff up.
And it only gets better, at least if your brain works the way mine does.
Let’s take a stroll through the elegantly designed Hiscox website.
On the top menu: Hiscox in your country. (In my what, sir?)
Under “About Hiscox” (say it aloud; it sounds like a cover line from Cosmo): Hiscox in action. (In action!)
Here’s an ad for Hiscox.
I apologize if seeing “Hiscox” and “organ grinders” in the same ad makes you twitch.
And here’s another ad.
Ever felt like you’re missing … Hiscox?
“For His Own Good,” by Abigail Lane, 1996. Don’t tread on Hiscox.
Is there a tongue-in-cheekiness about all of this? It’s certainly possible. Englishmen in the noonday Bermuda sun, et cetera. After all, as we’ve seen, when your company name is the butt of a joke, you may as well have a good laugh yourself.
In Hiscox’s case, all the way to the bank.