Monday, October 23, 2006

Seattle's Optiva

Seattle has gone and done the UICCU -- now "Optiva" -- one better. It spent more for its new nutty slogan, and has received more ridicule than "Optiva," as difficult as that may be to believe. Associated Press, "Seattle Residents Critical of 'Metronatural' Slogan," The Gazette, October 22, 2006.

I had earlier, in blogging about the UICCU's name change to "Optiva,"
Nicholas Johnson, "Optiva," October 13, 2006, noted the extent to which this name changing business is sort of a disease with institutional administrators who have run out of other things to do with their time. So when Seattle came along and offered yet one more example I thought it deserved comment.

But J.D. Mendenhall ("JD's Blog Bites") beat me to it and has said about all that needs to be said on the subject,
J.D. Mendenhall, "The Name Game 2. Worse Than Optiva," October 22, 2006, so I can just refer (and link) you there.

In brief, Seattle, offering the tourist both great natural scenes and activities and also an urban setting, and having decided that over 9 million tourists a year are not enough, concluded it needed a new slogan for its marketing. What better than "Metronatural," right? Wrong.

As the Associated Press story reports:

‘‘How do you use that in a sentence?’’ [Pike Place Market vendor Kenny] Telesco asked. ‘‘‘Welcome to Metronatural.’ . . . It’s an airport where you can buy organic bananas.’’

Others suggested ‘‘metronatural’’ evoked an urban nudist camp and speculated about whether it would last longer than ‘‘SayWA,’’ which the state dropped recently because it failed to catch on.

‘‘Metronatural’’ is the result of a 16-month, $200,000 effort by Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau plans to spend $300,000 marketing the slogan, which will largely be targeted at generating business for the Washington Convention and Trade Center.

Note that Seattle actually got "Metronatural" for $50,000 less than what UICCU paid for "Optiva." Moreover, a Google search on the term, which mostly comes up with sites ridiculing it, suggests there is a lot less chance of its being a trademark violation than "Optiva."

Of course, once the $300,000 marketing campaign is over the total will be twice what UICCU paid. Ah, but we don't yet have an estimate on the budget for marketing "optiva," do we. Oh, well. Watch this space -- and JD's -- for the ultimate costs.

Name changes:

1. Are very costly.

2. Serve little purpose.

3. Often produce more ridicule than return, and are therefore self-defeating.

4. Don't fool anyone.

If a new name was necessary (because of University of Iowa objections), couldn't something more appropriate (and probably free) been possible? Of course. If your imagination needs a kick-start just see, J.D. Mendenhall, "35 Better Names for UICCU Than Optiva," September 24, 2006.
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