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What’s in a Name?

February 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Some of the name tags given to beverage products strike me as incredible. Do the marketers just go along the alphabetical list of available names and say “yes, that one will do”. Of is it a finger in the air job? Or is it just to be a bit cheeky like Two Dogs alcoholic lemonade from Down Under. Remember Two Dogs? That was a great brand. The name was based on a great classic joke too. But this is not the place, nor the time.

But let’s move a bit more up-to-date and take Pussy Natural energy drink. What’s its relevance?  Is the name really there just to shock? If so, who is it shocking? It has a potential shock value for the adult inhabitants of our tiny “Sceptred Isle” certainly, but what about the 300 million inhabitants of the US. Doesn’t it kind of lose its market impact and potential amongst these beaver lovers? I wonder what its penetration rate would be in America…

Now Red Bull, that speaks volumes. That speaks of power that speaks of virility. I remember a conference a few years back where Harry Drnec, the Red Bull UK managing director, was speaking. Companies like Coke and PepsiCo had brought along complementary fridges filled with their products. These soon emptied whilst the mini Red Bull fridge was hardly touched. That was before Harry’s talk. The twist he put into his banter, hinting at the virility aspects of his brand, had an immediate impact. By the end of the next tea break the Red Bull fridge was bare!

To me Mother carries similar credentials as Red Bull. It’s big and beefy and exudes images of rough, tough can chewing biker gangs. You don’t know Mother? It’s a big hit in Oz. A pioneer of the 500ml energy drink can. Coca-Cola (it’s a Coke run brand) might not admit it, they don’t openly admit that Coca-Cola contained an opium derivative either, but to me Mother is missing a second half to its name (beginning with a capital F). So what, it works.

So what is the winning formula? Is it luck, is it symbolism, is it advertising, is it distribution muscle or is it actually that the product tastes good (hmm perhaps not), that is the 2 million dollar question. Oh and talking of money (and I know it was a long time ago but it still bugs me) , did it really cost £100,000 to come up with  the name tag of Diageo, linking Guinness plc and Grand Metropolitan plc in 1997? Really guys, what were you thinking?

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