The new name comes from the network’s longtime on-air identification: “Ici, Radio-Canada.” The network’s domain name, currently radio-canada.ca, will change in October to ici.ca.
The announcement “swiftly met widespread condemnation and mockery, especially from those angered over dropping the word Canada,” writes Ian Austen in the New York Times. He adds: “Some online critics, particularly on English-language Web sites, suggested that Quebec separatism was a factor in the new name.”
Coin Branding’s Andris Pone points out that ICI “cannot possibly be a good choice” because the network’s government funding stipulates that programming be “predominantly and distinctively Canadian” and that it be “in English and in French, reflecting the different needs and circumstances of each official language community.” Not only does ICI flout these requirements, the name is also “totally unrelated to the abiding message of the network,” Pone writes.
William Chambers, Radio-Canada’s vice president of brand, communications, and corporate affairs, “said it was all a misunderstanding induced by the network’s ‘enthusiasm’ for its new identity,” according to the Times story. He said the network’s abstract logo – Chambers called it “the gem,” but most people, says the Times, call it “the pizza” – will not change.
Prankvertising: An extreme form of guerrilla marketing that involves unsuspecting people “who have no idea that they’re playing a part in the creation of a video or TV spot that will (hopefully) go viral.” – The Pita Group, a branding agency in Connecticut.
AdWeek began using prankvertising in an April 1, 2013, post by David Gianatasio that was not an April Fool’s gag. “Are outrageous marketing stunts worth the risk?” the headline asked. Here’s the lead paragraph:
You’re waiting for the elevator in an office building, minding your own business, perhaps lost in thought. The door slides open and, wham! You’re confronted by a scene of intense violence as two men grapple on the floor of the cramped car, fists flying. One combatant slips a cord around the other’s neck and pulls it tight, choking the life out of his adversary.
The agency: Thinkmodo. The product: Dead Man Down, a movie.
Such marketing stunts are nothing new, but lately, brands seem to be taking the tactic to a new, extreme level, engineering increasingly sophisticated, hair-raising scenarios to break through the clutter, confusion and complexity of modern media to titillate consumers and generate free media coverage. These stunts involve, to varying degrees, average people who often have no idea at the outset that they're taking part in the making of a commercial or a video designed to go viral. Such efforts blur the lines between artifice and reality, fusing fact and fantasy in ways that can be invasive, sadistic and potentially risky.
There’s a precedent for the trend, he adds:
Contemporary prankvertising echoes Allen Funt’s Candid Camera, notes Michael Solomon, industry consultant and professor of marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. The show pre-dated the reality TV craze by almost 50 years, incorporating unsuspecting subjects into oddball scenarios in public places.
The difference today, Solomon says, is that marketers are staging “pranks on steroids,” upping the ante in almost every imaginable way and probing darker territory—with the sponsor’s name attached. Scenarios that trade on fear, death and danger test the limits of personal privacy and social acceptability.
The first person to use prankvertising in print (or pixels) may have been Zoli Erdos, a Bay Area startup advisor, editor, and blogger. In an August 3, 2006, blog post headlined “Prankvertising,” Erdos wrote that pranks “seem to become [sic] the new trend in advertising.” He cited two relatively mild spoofs, one for Agency.com (later renamed Designory) and one for Alltel.
What I’m not so crazy about is the event’s alternate name: Oaklavia.
As you can see, the official spelling is Oaklavía, with an acute accent over the i, so I know it’s meant to be pronounced oak-la-VEE-ya. But where I’ve most often seen it – in the #oaklavia hashtag, the oaklavia.org URL, and sundry blog posts – the accent doesn’t show up. And every time I see it, I read it as oak-LAY-vee-ya, to rhyme with “Octavia” or “Batavia.” And it’s a short slide from oak-LAY-vee-ya to oak-labia, and let’s try to be grownups here, shall we?
Oaklavía has been an annual event since 2010; the name and the activity are modeled after Ciclovía – “bike path” in Spanish – an open-streets event that originated in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1976 and has been a weekly occurrence in many Colombian cities ever since. Ciclovía has inspired many similar events around the world: San Francisco’s, which takes place from spring through fall, is called Sunday Streets; Los Angeles has a semiannual CicLAvia, which may be pronounced with a stressed vee, but you’d never guess it from the capitalized LA. CicLAvia always makes me think about cicadas, which is ridiculous, because there are no cicadas in L.A.
In fact the OED, in a 2005 addendum, gives that Clueless line as the earliest citation for so+verb (“definitely, decidedly. Freq. in negative constructions”). The construction also showed up in TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as early as 1996 (“We so don’t have time”).
Intensifiers in general are often associated with the speech of girls and women, and so+verb is no exception, as all of the above examples suggest. Zwicky, however, says the connection may be spurious:
The stereotypical associations of GenX so are to young white women (in the U.S.), no doubt because of its prominence in the movies Heathers (1988) and Clueless (1994). Studies of actual usage (though admittedly small in scale) suggest that the actual association with women, while apparently real, is smaller than the stereotype would suggest; and as the GenXers have aged, they seem to have carried this usage with them, and it’s spread to many people not in GenX (like me).
The other line in the sign that caught my attention was the slightly unidiomatic “gift for the gab.” The standard idiom is “the gift of [the] gab” (“an ability to speak easily and confidently”), but that’s not my main gripe. I’m just not happy about “gab” in this context: call me old-fashioned, but I’d prefer that sales associates not “talk idly or incessantly, as about trivial matters” while on the job.
I believe this design template is called Everything But the Unicorn.
The product’s name is Slushy Magic – the package contains “magic cubes” (filled with saline solution or gel, possibly) and a “Slushy Magic Cup” – but the stated benefit is slushification. Can you slushify your Zenify? Why, yes, you can!
Upon discovering this vast beauty located in a not-so-local WalGreens, my happiness meter jumped from “Oh gawd, I need tampons” to “HULLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SLUSHIES” (no I did not forget my lady things, I just happened to possibly mistakenly pick up cotton balls and twine). Of course, being the impatient person I am, I immediately ripped open that beautiful cyan blue box, with the happy children on the front, their precious cherub faces, gleaming at me with their cheery smiles as if to say, “Come to my slushy fountain, drink upon the abrosia [sic] of the Gods!”. In my exuberance, I did happen to endure the brutal, stabbing wound of a papercut, and some may or may not have gotten on the cup. It is alright, we all need more iron in our diets. Joyfully, I threw the saline-filled-whatevers into the freezer in wait for my delicious slushy shakin’ morning!
Bonus vocabulary fun: The OED says slush (“partially melted snow or ice; soft mud; food of a watery consistency; rubbishy discourse or literature”) is of “doubtful” origin. Slush fund (“a fund used to buy luxuries or to bribe”) originated in the 1830s in the U.S. Navy. The drink known as slushy goes by many other names, including Hawaiian ice, shave(d) ice, snow cone, and snowball. And that’s just in the U.S.; see this Wikipedia entry for slushy synonyms around the world.
Creepers: Shoes with thick soft soles, usually made of crepe rubber.
“Smiley Face Unicorn Glitter Mega Platform Wedge Hand Made Collaged Art Creepers” on Etsy. The platform is 4 inches high at the heel.
The Smithsonian blog Threaded traces the history of “creepers” to a 1953 name-of-the-dance hit song, “The Creep,” recorded by British big-band leader Ken Mackintosh. “A slow shuffle movement, it was embraced by a subculture called the Teddy Boys, who became known as creepers”:
In addition to distinguishing themselves by their musical preferences, Teddy Boys made themselves known through their dandy-like sartorial choices that referenced the early 20th century. A popular look included drainpipe pants with exposed socks, tailored drapey jackets, button-down shirts, brogues, Oxfords or crepe-soled shoes. Those ridged, thick-crepe-soled shoes with suede or leather uppers became known as “creepers” because of their association with the Creep dance (and maybe because if you misspelled crepe, you got creep?).
Maybe, but crepe (or crêpe) and creep are unrelated etymologically. Crepe comes via French from a Latin root meaning “curled.” (Yes, it’s the same word whether you’re talking about a thin pancake, crinkly paper, or rubber with a corrugated surface. Because of the crumpled look of its petals, crape myrtle is related, too.) Creep comes from Old English créopan, which meant pretty much what it does today: “To move with the body prone and close to the ground, as a short-legged reptile, an insect, a quadruped moving stealthily, a human being on hands and feet, or in a crouching posture.” (OED)
Creepers became known as brothel creepers when British soldiers returned home from fighting World War II. From Smithsonian.com: “Still wearing their crepe-soled, military-issued boots, they hit the London nightclubs.”
Creepers’ popularity declined in the 1960s but re-emerged during the punk scene of the 1970s. They’re back again in exaggerated styles similar to the flatforms of several seasons ago.
Retailer Urban Outfitters currently sells 37 styles of creepers on its website – all for women, interestingly. One brand, T.U.K., based in Poway, California, accounts for about 40 percent of them.
Footwear footnote: Sneakers or sneaks to mean “soft-soled footwear” is very similar in connotation to creepers but much older. According to the OED, sneaks was used in this sense at least as early as 1862 (“The night~officer is generally accustomed to wear a species of India~rubber shoes or goloshes on her feet. These are termed ‘sneaks’ by the women [of Brixton Prison]”. Sneakers is classified as “orig. and chiefly U.S.”; the earliest citation is from an 1895 edition of Funk’s Standard Dictionary of the English Language. In 1900 the American humorist George Ade wrote in More Fables: “His Job on this Earth was to put on a pair of Pneumatic Sneakers every Morning and go out and investigate Other People's Affairs.”
Freeways were initially given poetic-evocative names, drawn from historic, literary, or geographical sources: the Cahuenga, the Bayshore, the Redwood, the Ramona, the Cabrillo, the James Lick, the Nimitz. In the second phase of development, freeways tended to take on the names of their destinations—the Hollywood, the Long Beach, the Santa Ana, the San Bernardino—as in August 1954 when the Arroyo Seco Parkway became the Pasadena Freeway. In the third phase of development, freeways were to become known primarily by their numbers—the 10, the 5, the 880, the 101—for they were now part of an integrated state grid, scheduled for integration into an interstate system.
In the Bay Area, many residents (and traffic reporters) still refer to the Bayshore and the Nimitz (and to the Warren Freeway, State Route 13). No one in Northern California, however, would call the Nimitz Freeway “the 880”: up here, we prefer our freeway numbers anarthrous. For more on that subject, see the second half of my 2011 post “Thinking, Doing, Engineering, Amazing.”