Volume 36, Issue 11, November 2001


Name of the Game
        Should Companies Buy Their Product Names?
by Max Perilstein

Late this summer a news item caught my eye. A couple from New York, Jason Black and Frances Schroeder, had put up the opportunity to name their baby on the e-bay™ auction website. The couple was looking for a corporation that was greedy enough to attach its name to some poor, innocent child. They said the only restrictions were that they wouldn’t accept any bids that had lewd names. In fact, if their last name just happened to be “Green” I’m sure there’d be a few glass-related bidders. Anyway the couple said they were doing it to raise money so they could move from their apartment into a house

Hot on the tail of that item, another news blurb hit the wires. Out west, Wells Fargo Bank bought the naming rights to a high school. For the last few years, almost every stadium or arena built in the United States and Canada has sold its naming rights. Instead of naming these places after legendary civic leaders or after the city itself, we get American Airlines Arena and PSInet Stadium.

Those who read my columns know that I have railed a few times here at the manufacturers for the putrid and unoriginal attempts at names. The confusion continues, but maybe the idea above can save me.

Selling Rights
Possibly, one or more manufacturers can sell the rights to its product names. Instead of Blue 2000 T we’ll get “Dentyne Ice Blue.” Bye-bye, Solarban 60; instead we’ll know it as “Tabasco Low-E.” Since there’s already a gum named “Eclipse” I guess that name could stay. But, Sunguard 20 on clear could easily be picked up by the fine folks at Nextel and be known as “Nextel Direct Connect 20.” On the fabrication side, as long as your tempered is not known as “Ruffles,” almost anything would work.

We could sell the naming rights to our insulating and fabricated glass. I can guarantee you a beer maker would jump at the chance to put its name on our insulating glass. Besides, some of our customers tell me that our quality drives them to drink. So why not take advantage of it? 

Heck, everything could get a name. Instead of an employee handbook, the human resource folks could sell the rights and now new hires would read from the Pizza Hut employee handbook. A couple of coupons and it may be the first time the book would be read. 
Maybe I can find a corporate sponsor for this column. Instead of “From the Fabricator” you could be reading the “Kraft Cheese Bits.” 

Actually with the way ad dollars seem to be going, the world of cross promotion and getting the most bang for your advertising buck is the mantra by which some are living. So I can see the crossover appeal with sponsorship of the most basic of items in non-traditional fields by other industries just for the exposure.

Importance of a Name
Once again one of my favorite themes is being played out. Names are way too important to receive as little thought as they do, yet more and more in everyday life, people are giving them away, or in some cases, selling them. 

I tried to find who won the right to name the Black/Schroeder baby but was unable to do so. I guess in their desire to play the name game, they actually listed on two auction sites and voided any bidding. A spokesman from one of the auction sites is doubtful any company will be willing to take the gamble. He says a corporation’s “not gonna spend money like that” without first seeing what the couple’s current offspring looks like. Pretty amazing. I hope he wasn’t serious. 


PERILSTEIN Max Perilstein is vice president/general manager of PDC Glass of Michigan. His column appears bimonthly.


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