The “disaster comedy” Don’t Look Up opens December 10 in theaters and comes to Netflix on December 24. Directed by Adam McKay (Vice, The Big Short) it features what Variety, in a pan, calls “a galaxy full of stars” and an all-too-plausible premise: “Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.”
Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance…
Does the title have a familiar ring? It should: Hollywood has been fond of “don’t-look” titles for more than half a century. In chronological order:
Throwback Thursday! Remember when I first wrote about an ad that used the catchphrase “… said no one ever”? It was in February 2016; here’s the link. Five years later, said no one is still being said by almost everyone, ad nauseam. As proof, I bring you two companies and two outdoor ads currently installed at opposite ends of San Francisco.
THINK was a one-word slogan developed by IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, Sr. It appeared in IBM offices, plants and company publications in the 1920s and in the early 1930s began to take precedence over other slogans in IBM. It eventually appeared in wood, stone and bronze, and was published in company newspapers, magazines, calendars, photographs, medallions -- even New Yorker cartoons -- and it remained for years the name of IBM's employee publication. You can still find echoes of Watson’s motto in the brand name of IBM's popular notebook computers: the ThinkPad. This photograph shows a number of THINK signs rendered in a variety of languages for display by IBM employees around the world.
Earlier this week I received a fundraising email whose salutation was “Look,” which seemed just a little … testy. But what do I know; I was schooled in the “Dear Sir or Madam” era. It made me wonder which forms of address are acceptable in 2021, which are a little edgy, and which are too quaint to be taken seriously.
“Dear ___,” it goes without saying, now falls into the third category—in correspondence, anyway. When traveling grammar advisor Ellen Jovin conducted a Twitter poll last year, the “Dear ___” salutation received zero votes.
What percentage of your work emails begin with the word "Dear"?
If you’re avoiding dairy for reasons of health or principle, you have more choices than ever, and some of them even taste good. There are dairy substitutes made from soy (Silk, introduced in 1977, is one of the oldest soy-milk brands, and still one of the most elegantly named), oats (Oatly, based in Sweden and famous in the U.S. for its whatever advertising), nuts (Texas-based MALK, whose weird all-caps name may have been inspired by that episode of The Simpsons), or peas (Ripple, based in the Bay Area, and aren’t you glad they didn’t name it Pea Milk?).
Then there are the dairy alternatives that tell you only what they aren’t: Not Milk, NotMilk, and “Shh … This Is Not MLK,” with a white droplet replacing the I in milk, to ensure that you don’t confuse it with not–Martin Luther King Jr.
That’s right: Three brands with three virtually identical names—none of them telling you what the product is, only what it’s not.
This post was going to be a short riff on a line in that Inauguration poem by Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman—the line about the vine and the fig tree, which got me thinking about figs. Mmmm, figs. But one fig led to another, and next thing you know I was way down a figgy rabbit hole from which there was no escape. Go figure.
In 2002, the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers—now known as PwC—rebranded its consulting business. The move wasn’t entirely voluntary: The US Congress had just passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in response to the accounting scandals of the previous few years (Enron, WorldCom, et al.), and firms like PwC were feeling the heat. PwC worked with a global branding agency, Wolff Olins, and in June 2002 announced the consulting business’s new name: Monday. It was meant to suggest “a fresh start,” spokespeople said. The company plannedto invest $110 million through fiscal 2003 to establish the Monday brand.
The response from the outside world was … not kind. It probably will not shock you to learn that Monday—the day of the week—isn’t popular.
“Ask someone to name their least favourite words. The chances are that ‘Monday’ will come somewhere on the list,”the Irish Times snarked. An opinion writer for IT Week called the new name “bizarre” and said it represented “spin triumphing over substance.” German observers pointed out that “Monday” suggested low quality, as in “Monday cars” assembled before workers have recovered from the weekend.
Just another case of hating new names until we don’t? We never had a chance to find out: In July 2002, IBM bought PwC’s consulting unit and renamed it, in classic IBM fashion, the IBM Consulting Group.
But something about “Monday” must have resonated in the culture at large, because 19 years later, the name is thriving. It’s attached unapologetically to swimwear, haircare products, a team-management system, and at least four unrelated brand agencies in Canada, Macedonia, the UK, and the US.
Dear copywriters, editors, and reporters: Do you really think you’re being clever with your “’Tis the season” line? Trust us: you are not. I refer you to that wise man John McIntyre, of the Baltimore Sun, reminding us to beware holiday clichés:
The Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice – literally, “the point at which the sun seems to stand still” – occurred at 9:24 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, June 20. But for some brands, the solstice never ends.