Two huge companies on opposite sides of the globe. Two ad campaigns with ginormous budgets. Two teams of copywriters burning the midnight oil, pushing themselves to be original and authentic and cutting edge.
Mast is a new kind of mobile-telecommunications platform for businesses and their employees: a carrier, software platform, and device manager all in one. It gives business owners the power to manage productivity, costs, and security, and it allows employees to carry a single device with two numbers, one for personal use and one for business use.
When the co-founders of Mast Mobile—all of whom had extensive experience at large multinational companies—contacted me in January, their company was less than 18 months old and was operating in private beta under the name Grid Mobile. That name had evolved from an early plan to provide mesh networks as overlay on existing mobile networks. Now that the original strategy was no longer central, the founders wanted to replace a name they correctly perceived as having unwelcome connotations of infrastructure and “electrical grid,” and a static rather than dynamic and innovative sound.
If you needed proof that “ass” and its variants (kick-ass, bad-ass, Big Ass) have become unexceptional in mainstream US advertising, here’s a new Verizon ad that tells customers they can “stop living with half-fast Internet.”
Geddit? “Half-assed,” haha.
Update, December 2014: the video I originally embedded is no longer available, but the campaign continues.
Meanwhile, a new cookbook from Rodale—yes, that Rodale, 84 years old and famous for healthy-living publications like Women’s Health and Prevention—says F-U to innuendo and drives straight into foul territory.
But few commercial portmanteaus rise to those heights. Instead, what we see is a lot of chop-and-jam (or perhaps choja, as the blend trend would have it).
Last year, for example, saw the debut of Burger King’s Satisfries, a combo of “satisfy” and “fries” that satisfied no one. (It doesn’t help that the word sounds almost exactly like “saddest fries.”) Sonic Drive-Intortured phonetics with Spicedictive, a distinctly nonaddictive word. The New York Times devoted many column inches to a bourbon-rye blend called Bourye, which I see as Bour Ye and want to pronounce like “Hear ye, hear ye!”
Also in 2013, Subway introduced the Flatizza (flatbread/pizza), which invites adolescent chortling* about flat tits.
Image via A Walk in the Words, who called Flatizza “a phonetically problematic portmanteau.” Indeed.
And I’m sorry to say that we are far from finished with this tired trend. Today marks the rollout of Framily, from Sprint.
“You don’t have to be family to be Framily.” (“That is not a typo,” advised Lifehacker.)
“Up to 10 friends, family and others,” it says up there. Why not go all in and call it Framiloth?
Maybe “Framily” will catch on as shorthand for Friends and Family. (And maybe, somewhere out there, there’s a burning demand for a 10-line mobile plan.) But I’m doubtful. The Framily name elicits winces and groans, not smiles. An undercooked hybrid, it’s the turducken of telecom.
Cablevision Shutting Down OMGFAST Wireless Broadband Service
Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) said Tuesday that it is shutting down its OMGFAST wireless broadband service in Florida next month. …
“OMGFAST will be discontinuing its voice and broadband services. We are in the process of notifying existing customers so they can identify alternative services,” Cablevision told FierceCable in a statement late Tuesday. While Cablevision didn't announce a specific shutdown date for OMGFAST, a recorded message on its customer service line Tuesday said that service in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and 10 other cities would be discontinued on Aug. 19.
OMGPOP Team Tried to Buy Back Its Site, but Zynga Killed It Instead
OMGPOP almost got an extra life, but Zynga said ‘game over’. Zynga just finalized plans to shut down OMGPOP, the game developer of Draw My Thing it acquired for $200 million in March 2012. But multiple sources familiar with Zynga tell TechCrunch the OMGPOP team was in direct contact with Zynga leadership in an attempt to buy back the site or continue operating it, yet Zynga refused.
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.
Have you heard? Nokia has rebranded all of its navigation products with a single name: HERE.
The official story, in flawless brandbabble:
“HERE is a name that I think signifies what I call an ethos in cartography. HERE is about a sense of location,” said Michael Halbherr, the Nokia executive who oversees the company’s location and commerce unit, in an interview at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. (Via TechCrunch, March 2)
I can’t explain why the name is in spelled in ALL CAPS everywhere on the website except in the logo.
And here’s more news: PayPal has introduced a new credit-card reader for mobile devices. It, too, is called Here.
As we all know, verbing weirds language. And, like it or not, it’s everywhere. (See showrooming, subtexting, “Let’s Tonic,” et al.) But nouning – turning a modifier into a noun – is also increasingly popular in commerce, and it’s also changing our perceptions about what language “should” be.
Take “funness,” which Apple has been using for several months in its iPod Touch marketing. As Ben Zimmer has noted in columns for the Boston Globe and Word Routes, now that “fun” has successfully shifted from noun to adjective, you have to add “-ness” to turn it back into a noun.
But other brands aren’t even bothering with nounifying suffixes. Instead, they’re simply putting adjectives to work as nouns.
Here are nine recent examples of nouning in brand slogans. In each case, the advertiser could have made a conventionally nounish choice (“Welcome to possibility,” “The future of awesomeness”) but instead grabbed our attention, for better or worse, with a functional shift, also known as anthimeria.