iPad, uPad: Apple meets the push-up bra

Apparently iPad has been enhancing feature sets for a while….

So of course, health Beg to Differ was riveted on Wednesday by “The Big Speech”. No, stuff not the State of the Union Address: it was the unveiling of a new product by Apple that had our attention. And apparently, we weren’t the only ones watching: so were trademark lawyers for several other “iPads”. But will any of it matter for Apple? Read on.

A padded insert from Coconut Grove Intimates - with a branded insert of our own.
A padded insert from Coconut Grove Intimates – with a branded insert of our own.

Trying to pad the feminine market?

On Wednesday, our big question was not “what will this miraculous new product be?” Everybody knew that already. It was leaked long ago that it would be a tablet device that would look something like a big iPod or iPhone.

We were watching to see what they would call it.

The “i” naming convention was a given with iMac, iTunes, etc. But would this one become iSlate? iTablet? iShtar? Surely not <gasp> “iPad”?

Nope, iPad it was

The Fujitsu iPad product
The Fujitsu iPad product

Now, we’re fans of Apple branding in almost every possible way, and we lauded the return of Steve Jobs in a previous post. But instantly upon the announcement, we watched the media and the Twitter universe light up with criticism, and some really off-colour humour, about the name sounding like a feminine hygiene product (see the MadTV clip at bottom).

Even more shocking: it turns out that the hygiene connection was just the beginning. Neither the name itself, or the association with products aimed at females, were unique.

Fujitsu has already filed suit based on its own iPad product (above), and several others are out there.

But the one that jumped out at us was the “iPad” product sold by a small Canadian company called Coconut Grove Pads Inc.. It’s a bra insert like the one shown at the top of this post.

But will any of this matter?

In a word: no.

Let’s be clear: I would never advise a smaller client to go with such a name. There are just too many risk factors, as the media have been gleefully pointing out.

But Apple knows this. And they went ahead in spite of it because, well, they’re Apple. Their market awareness is just too big, and the new product just too smart, for any of this to matter.

They will settle with Fujitsu after some posturing by both parties, the Twitter wags will get their “Maxi” giggles, and the bra company will get its moment in the sun.

But most importantly, the name “iPad” will quickly lose its association with MaxiPads and other feminine products.

Why? Because we will all take ownership of the name as the way to refer to the Apple device – which will push all other uses to the back of the collective consumer brain bus.

And in the branding game, that’s what really matters.

What do you think? Are we artificially inflating our opinion? Let us know in the comments!

Bonus: MadTV scooped Apple on the iPad name in Nov. 2007

NOTE: This is very funny – but mildly gynecological humour might be a bit “edgy” for more conservative work environments, so view with caution.

How to name a chicken sandwich: thoughts for branders (1)

Part one of a series on product naming.

So, medications after months of waiting, cialis 40mg  the baby is finally here. No, ed I don’t mean my actual baby – my wife and I are still waiting for the arrival of our third little bundle at the end of November. I’m talking about the new chicken sandwich Brandvelope named for KFC in Canada – which appeared in stores on Friday. Beg to Differ often gets asked what goes into such a process, so as a public service, here are a few insights for brand managers from the Kentucky Fried trenches.

Big Fresh

The Colonel calls

When Priszm (the company that manages the KFC brand in Canada for Yum! Brands) called Brandvelope this summer to ask for help naming the new sandwich, they already had a great product in development. The concept of the new sandwich had been pretty much nailed down after several cycles of focus group testing, refinement, and more testing.

We learned that they were launching this new product to be a “hero” – or “flagship” of their line of sandwiches. And we learned that focus group subjects loved the sandwich, but they didn’t love any of the names that had been tested.

Our job: find the right name for the new sandwich.

The sandwich concept:

  1. The chicken: fresh, skinless chicken breast fillets breaded in-store with the Colonel’s 11 herbs & spices, then fried on-demand for customers.
  2. The extras: fresh lettuce, a sesame seed bun, and peppercorn mayo.
  3. The packaging: the product is the only KFC sandwich served in a box, giving it a premium, high-value appeal.

The concept sounded like a winner to us (as a matter of fact, the early concept photos had our mouths watering). But what do you call such a thing?

There are two basic ways to approach naming.

The wrong way: creative first; strategy last.

This is the most common approach to naming. Sit in a room and brainstorm until you come up with the most creative, crazy, or compelling name you can think of, then run with it. This approach can be loads of fun, and usually leads to names that work great for the brainstormers, but not for customers.

The right way: strategy first; then get creative

This is our approach: take some time to understand the context that the new product will be launched into, the “brandscape” around it, and most importantly, what the name is supposed to do. Then and only then do you move to the creative part.

A great name is never just a name; it’s a tool to help people find, understand, and remember products, services, and yes, chicken sandwiches.

What we needed to know before we started:

  1. Intentions and strategic goals: what was the impetus behind the launch on the part of the people managing the brand?
  2. Customer expecations: what did we know about the hang-ups and desires of the target audience?
  3. The Brandscape: what competing products would the new product be compared to and how could we highlight the differences?
  4. Brand architecture – how  would the new name complement and contrast the rest of the existing portfolio of products?
  5. The unknowns: what additional information did we need, or at least, what were the areas where we’d have to make educated guesses?

The process from there:

So how did we get from these questions to the final name “Big Fresh Chicken Sandwich”?

Good question. We’ll get into more details in a series of blog posts over the next few days. But in the meantime, here are a few “take-aways” to think about.

Thoughts for branders:

  • Does your company treat product (or corporate) naming as a creative process first, or do you start with customer-facing strategy?
  • Can you answer all five of the areas we needed to adress for KFC above?
  • Are you treating your products as individual entities or  as part of a bigger system that helps customers make decisions?
  • Are you listening to people outside of your board room when you make such decisions? People who are willing to challenge you and your assumptions?

The Chicken Sandwich Series

  1. How to name a chicken sandwich: thoughts for branders (this post)

Yummy Mummy & Urkelo’s: 15 breakfast brands we’ll never see again

Breakfast Cereal brands that didn’t stand the test of time

After yesterday’s post on Laser-Engraved Corn Flakes, and Beg to Differ took a look at the Wikipedia list of breakfast cereals and noticed just how many of these cereals failed for one reason or another. Either they were meant to promote a short-lived movie, prostate character, ed or cartoon, or given names that became liabilities for other reasons, or they were just hilariously bad ideas.

Sad spoon

15 breakfast cereal brands we’ll never see again

biltedCer1) Bill & Ted’s Excellent CerealRalston (1989)

A short-lived cereal based on the equally short-lived Saturday morning cartoon of the late 1980s starring a pair of teenaged slackers – one of whom was a very young Keanu Reeves. Funny, he never made the cereal aisle again with subsequent movies. Perhaps  Dangerous Liaisons Crunch?  The Devil’s Advocate Loops? Matrix Flakes?

Baron von Redberry2) Baron von Redberry & Sir GrapefellowGeneral Mills (1972)

Interesting concept. These two characters were set up as mortal enemies – World War I flying aces in a dogfight for breakfast-table supremacy. They both spiraled down in flames, but you have to admire the effort.

3) C-3PO’sKellogg’s (1984)

This of course was a cereal based on the Star Wars character, C-3PO. I remember seeing this one on the supermarket shelf. Why the fussy, anally retentive protocol droid and not Leia Cinnamon Bun Crunch or Wookie Pops? Who can say.

Tag line: “A Crunchy New Force at Breakfast”

4) Cocoa Hoots – Kellogg’s (1972)

This cereal was described on the box a “sweetened chocolate flavored cereal – fortified with 8 essential vitamins”. Its mascot was named Newton The Owl.

But is it just me, or is there a striking resemblance to the logo of a certain chain of restaurants?

Coincidence? Probably.
Coincidence? Probably.

crazy-cow5) Crazy CowGeneral Mills (Late 1970s)

To me, this name is an odd duck – or perhaps a weird heifer? The idea is that it would turn your milk a “crazy” artificial pink colour. But as if that weren’t appetizing enough, I’m pretty sure after the Mad Cow scare of a few years back, this one won’t be making a comeback any time soon…

Dunkin Donuts6) Dunkin’ Donuts CerealRalston (1988)

The brand connection between the chain of adult focused coffee-and-donut stores and a kid-oriented breakfast cereal is a bit of a stretch. Particularly in 1988, when I would have expected this to taste like Styrofoam, day-old coffee, and cigarette ashes. Mmm.

Tag line: “Crunchy little donuts with a great big taste!” Two varieties: Glazed Style and Chocolate.

Flutie_Flakes_10th_Anniversary_Box7) Flutie FlakesGeneral Mills (1998-2001)

Named for quarterback Doug Flutie, these ones actually lasted quite a while, and the cereal became an ironic pop-culture hit – with a box appearing in the background on Seinfeld for example.

Wikipedia also notes that Flutie Flakes became the subject of a minor controversy in January 1999 when after Doug blew a playoff game against the Dolphins, Miami Dolphins‘ head coach Jimmy Johnson poured Flutie Flakes on the ground and invited his team to stomp on them. This made Flutie very angry.

Freakies8 ) FreakiesRalston (1972-1976)

Very elaborate product line and character universe, but a fairly sizable flop for Ralston’s first attempt at sugary breakfast cereal. But even today, you can order T-Shirts from this Freakies fan site: http://www.freakies.com/

9) Mr. T Cereal – Quaker Oats

As a famous man once said: I pity the fool that ridicules this cereal. So I’ll let another famous man introduce this cereal to you (and the other denizens of his demented playhouse).

Pee-Wee Herman eats Mr. T cereal

Mud and Bugs10) Mud & BugsKellogg’s/Disney (2003-2006)

Mmmm. Tasty. I’m going to award this one the “Least Appetizing Name” award. Of course, it’s a promotional tie-in worked out with the Disney merchandising folks and meant to promote the launch of the Lion King franchise.

And yes, I can see the “gross-out-mom” appeal of “Mud & Bugs”. But even as a kid who loved grossing out mom, the name alone would inspire me to skip breakfast entirely.

Green Slime11) Nickelodeon Green Slime CerealGeneral Mills (2003)

Sorry, I take back the Least Appetizing Name award and give it to this You Can’t Do That on Television spin-off. Funny though, that this would have come after the lifespan of the show – with the golden era of You Can’t being the late 1980’s.


12) Nintendo Cereal SystemRalston/Nintendo – (1988-1989)

For a commercial product tie-in, the name and “System” concept are creative, different. We like that. Here’s how Wikipedia describes the “system”:

“The cereal box was divided in half. One side, called Super Mario Bros. Action Series, had fruity-flavoured Marios, Super Mushrooms,Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and Bowsers, and the other, called Zelda Adventure Series, had berry-flavored Links, hearts, boomerangs, keys, and shields.”

13) Punch Crunch – (Quaker Oats) (1970s)

Cap’n Crunch apparently had a few spin-0ffs, including this violent-sounding sidekick. The “Punch” refers to the fruit-punch-flavour of these cereal rings. The mascot was a hippopotamus named Harry in sailor duds, who actually does some villain crunching in the old commercial below.

Commercial for Punch Crunch:

Urkel-Os14) Urkel-OsRalston (1991)

How did this kid ever get a cereal? Named for Steve Urkel – the supremely annoying fictional character on the ABC/CBS comedy sitcom Family Matters, portrayed by Jaleel White, this one was mercifully short-lived and now we have only the commercials on YouTube to remember how close we came to the end of civilization as we know it.

Commercial for Urkel O’s

Yummy_Mummy15) Yummy MummyGeneral Mills (1987-1992)

Funny, I’m married to one of these. But this cereal probably predated the wide use of the term for a nice-looking female with children. Also known as “Fruity Yummy Mummy”s, this cereal was part of the same cereal family as Count Chocula and Franken Berry.

From Mr. Breakfast.com: Yummy Mummy was a “fruit flavor frosted cereal with vanilla flavor marshmallows”. The yellow marshmallow pieces seemed to resemble the shape of a head. On some of the cereal boxes, they were referred to as “monster mallows”. The other cereal pieces were red and orange. They may have also been intended to resemble heads, but the primarily circular nuggets with two slits in the center looked more like colorful little pig snouts.