As Hapi Food, the high-fiber breakfast cereal sold modestly. Then the Canadian couple who owned the company changed the brand name to Holy Crap. Sales multiplied by a factor of ten; in four years, annual sales grew to $5.5 million.
The moral? “Risqué Names Reap Rewards for Some Companies,” declares the headline in today’s New York Times. “Have we gotten to the point where pretty much anything goes?” pleads reporter John Grossman, whose apt surname is surely a coincidence. “And are provocative, cheeky, even crude company and product names good for business?”
It may be news to the Times, but the potty-mouth branding trend has been gathering steam for years. I wrote about Tough Titties Nipple Rub and Chicken Poop lip balm in November 2007, Man Glaze nail polish in January 2009, Royal Bitch and Ball Buster wines in December 2011, Eggslut and Bookslut in January 2012, and Big Ass Fans and Bad Ass Booty Balm in September 2012.
To that list Mr. Grossman adds Hello Flo, a tampons-by-subscription service; and Mammoth Erection, a construction company whose mascot is a woolly mammoth. (What were you expecting?)
But the Times story missed another name in this growing category—another cereal name, as it happens—that suggests this crappy trend may have jumped the crappy shark.
That name is Crapola!—the exclamation mark is part of the brand—and it’s been around since 2007. (I learned about it earlier this month from Duets Blog, which covers trademark law and marketing.) Crapola! is made in Ely, Minnesota, by Brain Storm Bakery; its tagline is “Makes Even Weird People Regular.” And the name isn’t just an expletive, it’s a portmanteau. Here’s the relevant snippet from the About Crapola! page:
By June of 2007, we were living the country life on our very own off-grid homestead in northern Minnesota. That’s when a silly conversation turned into inspiration for our granola business. One day I said something like “wouldn’t it be funny if we made cranberry apple granola and called it Crapola?”. I say lots of things like that, but for some reason this idea actually became a reality. Next thing I knew, a business was born.
When Brain Storm introduced a new flavor, it naturally named it Number Two.
Now that there are two competing “crap” names in the cereal aisle, I suppose it’s only a matter of time before “crap” becomes a generic term. Just imagine: Crap Flakes. Crappy Bran. Craptain Crunch.
Or we could take this crapshoot into new brand extensions: Crapaté, Crap on a Cracker, or—for the Pennsylvania market—Crapple.
By then, overexposure will have taken its toll and the truly shocking brand names will go in the opposite direction. Anyone care to take bets on when we’ll see the return of names like Dainty, Royal, and even A-1?
Then of course there's Shinola, crappy by implication. Which you may already have written about...
Posted by: Diana Landau | April 25, 2014 at 07:14 AM
Diana: I wrote about Shinola--the old and the new versions--in July 2013: http://nancyfriedman.typepad.com/away_with_words/2013/07/shinola-shines-again.html
Posted by: Nancy Friedman | April 25, 2014 at 07:22 AM
We had a "Bad Ass Coffee" here in Orlando for a time -- not sure if it was a chain or not. We never stopped by, because my brain never read it as "Bad-Ass Coffee"; instead, it was always "Bad Ass-Coffee". And I certainly don't want any ass coffee. (Even if it's that fancy kopi luwak stuff.)
Posted by: Missy | April 25, 2014 at 08:31 AM