John Scalzi has serious sci-fi cred: Yesterday he was nominated for three Hugo awards, the highest science-fiction honor in the whole wide universe. So although I shared a few modest thoughts about the renaming of the Sci-Fi Channel a few days ago, Scalzi's really the guy you should be paying attention to. Here's what he has to say in a post titled "The Venereal Disease Channel Imaginatizes Greatastically"; I can't help quoting almost all of it, because Scalzi's such a brilliant writer:
Note to SciFi Channel: when your new brand identity means “venereal disease” in any language, it’s the sort of thing that — excuse the term — gets around.
You would think NBC Universal’s brand people might have caught this (heh) ahead of time. They do have people for this. And maybe they did catch it, but figured, heck, who knows Polish? Aside from 40 million Poles? Problem is, this is one of those things that Those Perverse Internets, and the equally-perverse people involved in them (not coincidentally SciFi Channel’s primary viewing demographic) will find out almost immediately and then proceed to have a big ol’ jolly field day with. As they did, and are doing.
Look: When your core audience looks at your new branding and exclaims “Hey! It’s the Venereal Disease Channel!” from the day you announce it until the day, a few years later, when you find slink away from it and try to pretend it never happened, you may have chosen your brand identity poorly. Yes, “Syfy” is brand extensible. But then, the Polish “syfy” is extensible too, in its way, although not in a way most people would want. So, yes, this is a problem. Glad it’s not my problem.
To be honest, however, the incipient “Syfy” branding doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the new brand’s tagline: “Imagine Greater.” I mean: really? “Imagine Greater”? What, were complete sentences too dear down at the marketing shop? I know there’s a recession on, but maybe they could have checked in the couch cushions for loose change. Or if they were simply intending to break grammar into pieces, for jazzy, kicky effect, why not go all the way? “Imagine Greater” is settling for the bronze when “Imaginate Greatably” is within one’s grasp. And, hey, it’s brand extendable.
Read the whole post, and the comments, too.
Hat tip to attentive reader Wes Phillips, who writes a pretty cool blog himself.
Syfy? Seriously? I wasn't a fan to start. Pardon me while I go mock my geek husband. *giggle*
Posted by: Wende | March 20, 2009 at 11:31 AM
I KNEW it sounded like a venereal disease! I KNEW IT!
Posted by: Mmmeg | March 20, 2009 at 11:36 AM
This is the best thing I've read all day. Trying to stifle laughing in my cube.
Posted by: Freya | March 20, 2009 at 11:45 AM
There was a time when true fans of science fiction actively scorned the abbreviation "sci-fi." To them, the genre was known as SF, and the sure mark of a rube or a wannabe was the use of the phrase "sci-fi." I kinda miss those days. Especially now.
Posted by: Bob Cumbow | March 20, 2009 at 01:48 PM
They should have the tagline be "Viral Transmissions." The only way out of this is to embrace the venereal disease (that's a phrase I never thought I'd write), own it, like they knew all along! And make t-shirts that say, "I'm Syfy positive." I can see geeks wearing that, for sure.
Posted by: Kelly Parkinson | March 20, 2009 at 10:37 PM
nice post. I liked that
Posted by: Website Editor | March 24, 2009 at 02:39 AM