At last: a story that isn’t about COVID-19! Instead, it’s about movies; the US Department of Defense; the People’s Republic of China; and a bill, introduced last week by US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), with an absurdly tone-deaf name.
The bill is known by its acronym, SCRIPT. Here’s how Cruz touted it on Twitter.
The SCRIPT Act will serve as a wake-up call by forcing Hollywood studios to choose between the assistance they need from the American government and the dollars they want from China: https://t.co/EmqdC5H012
Yes, it’s the “Stopping Censorship, Restoring Integrity, and Protecting Talkies” Act.
Imagine coming up with SCRIPT (in the first place: why?) and then having to reverse-engineer an acronym (that is, a backronym) for it. You get all the way to T and you’re stumped. What are we protecting? Truth? Trust? Trademarks? Taste? Taxes? Telecommunications? Twinkies?
Earlier this week, a Utah grocery chain pulled three soda brands from its shelves after a customer, Kate Boyle, tweeted that she was “shocked and horrified” by the name of one of the brands: “Not See Kola.” (Boyle’s account is now private.)
Nazi cola? Oh no, demurs Not See Kola’s distributor: It’s pronounced note-zee, which means “lake distress” in German. Riiiight.
The other brands are “Orthodox Jooce” (made from Concord grape juice), and “Leninade,” which I wrote about in a 2011 post about brands that appropriate the imagery and language of 20th-century Communism. All three brands are distributed by Real Soda in Real Bottles, headquartered in Gardena, California.
It was the second time in two months that a Utah customer had criticized the Not See Kola name on social media. In April, Macy Moon wrote on Facebook that she was “very disappointed to see something so tasteless come from a Utah company.” The company’s response to Moon could hardly be construed as an apology. “We respect and understand that everyone has differing senses of humor,” the company wrote. “Our goal is to provide a wide variety of sodas and flavors that everyone can enjoy.”
In other words: Get over yourself! It’s just a joke!
Eater magazine published a five-part series on bad restaurant names, from bad puns to “distressingly sexual” to “crimes against language” to “just really bad.” Start with Part 1 and follow the links at the end to read about the others.
The press release arrived in inboxes Thursday afternoon, and within minutes it seemed everyone in media or branding was scoffing at it.
Tribune Publishing Co. (NYSE:TPUB) today announced that the Company will change its name to tronc, Inc., a content curation and monetization company focused on creating and distributing premium, verified content across all channels. tronc, or tribune online content, captures the essence of the Company’s mission. tronc pools the Company’s leading media brands and leverages innovative technology to deliver personalized and interactive experiences to its 60 million monthly users. The name change will become effective on June 20, 2016.
Tribune Publishing Co., based in Chicago, owns some of the oldest and biggest surviving newspapers in the United States, including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. The company, like the rest of the newspaper industry, has been struggling for years.
And now it faces yet another challenge: a storm of ridicule from journalists, brand consultants, and critical civilians.
Of course, negative response to a rebrand is to be expected. Indeed, most renaming announcements are met with jeers. (Everyone’s a critic.) For my part, I keep theZajonc effect in mind: the tendency of people, after repeated exposure to something they initially disliked, to like the thing more over time. (Zajonc does not rhyme with “tronc”; it rhymes with “science.”)
But, ladies and gentlemen, I am fairly confident that years of exposure will not make me fall in love, or even in like, with tronc. It’s a word that sounds silly at best, ugly at worst, a rhyming cousin of honk, zonk, bonk, and honky-tonk. The lack of capitalization is ridiculous and impractical. (How will, say, the Chicago Tribune, a tronc property, treat the name at the beginning of a sentence?) And it’s a bad portmanteau, a Frankenname soldered together from a heartless DisruptionSpeak buzzword, “online content” (not to mention “premium, verified content”). The story that’s meant to justify it is blistered with other soulless buzzwords: “leverages,” “innovative,” “personalized,” “interactive experiences.”
* Maybe it sounds dandy in Norwegian, the first language of the company’s founders. But the company’s now based in Palo Alto, the site’s in English, and they’re going after Y Combinator funding, so I figure they may be receptive to a little constructive U.S. criticism.
Pay For A Date, an “upcoming online dating platform” based in the UK, is, according to its Twitter bio, “dedicated to the joy of dating where quality, not quantity, is the measure of our dating success.”