The Rumpelstiltskin gig

Naming things is important. Most novelists learn this early on. Corporations? Not so much.

I was in a meeting with my College Advancement group at Portland Community College yesterday when someone asked about Apple’s new tablet computer. “What’s it called?” someone asked.

I groaned. “The I-Pad. Clearly, no women were in the room when the marketing team came up with the name.”

It took a two-count before everyone in the room got my meaning. And groaned.

This isn’t the first time that a major American corporation named a product with a gynecological tag. Thirty-plus years ago, the Ford Motor Co. figured out that women had a) independence (gasp!) and b) disposable income and c) sometimes bought cars, which had been a male-dominated activity since the guy who ran Ford was Mr. Ford. The company decided to design a car for “them feminists.” The called it…

…wait for it….

…the Probe.

I often wonder if anyone in Ford’s marketing department pitched the name “The Stirrups.”

British mystery writer Simon Brett (love…him…) wrote a series of terrific mysteries featuring actor and alcoholic Charles Paris. Remember those? They were great. I heard Brett speak at a Bouchercon, when he admitted that he created an ex-wife for the beloved if self-destructive hero. He named her “Francis.” Perfectly good name. It wasn’t until he was doing a speaking gig that he said the name out loud for the first time, “Francis Paris,” that he realized his error.

Try it. Say the name out loud. Francis Paris.

See the problem?

This stuff isn’t child’s play, folks. You gotta get it right.

About danahaynes

Dana Haynes is the author of ICE COLD KILL (2013), BREAKING POINT (2011) and CRASHERS (2010) from Minotaur and St. Martin's Press.

Posted on January 29, 2010, in Blog and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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