Aporkalypse Now: Rebranding swine flu is like putting lipstick on a well, you know

What with the World Health Org declaring Defcon infinity I suspect yesterday was the last day which anyone will find swine flu funny for a while. That said, here’s a round up of humorous headlines

The nomenclature is clearly posing a big problem – although not as big as the actual illness.

"We will call it Mexico flu. We won’t call it swine flu," Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman, a black-garbed Orthodox Jew, told a news conference Monday, assuring the Israeli public that authorities were prepared to handle any cases.

Attempts to rebrand the disease are failing in great number. As old buddy/NY Daily News reporter Helen Kennedy noted:

Washington officials launched a comically doomed effort to call it "H1N1," while the European Union tried to rename it the "novel flu."

And the NYT reports:

Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, convened a hearing on Tuesday on a subject he described as “the so-called swine flu,” even as a campaign was mounted by farm groups to rename the virus “North American influenza.”

There are concerns pork sales will fall off a cliff faster than Matthew 8:28-34* as long as people continue to erroneously think you can get punk’d by pork. If they can’t rebrand the illness I expect marketers to start changing the name of their products: Four-legged chicken. Tuna of the farm. Mini-beef.

Another branding issue: swine flu – like global warming before it – just doesn’t sound scary. Al Sacco tweeted: “Swine flu isn’t a scary enough name. It needs a slogan, too: "Pork Plague, the (Other) White Death," for example.”

BTW, free instant diagnosis is available at DoIhavePigFlu.com.


*“and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water

Bank robber says bank bailouts justify abrupt withdrawal

San Francisco police investigators are seeking the public’s help in tracking down a suspect who walked into a downtown bank, explained that he was fed up with corporate bailouts and threatened to detonate a bomb.

The manager escorted the man to a private room, where the suspect explained that he was employed by an organization that is concerned about U.S. government bailouts of corporations. … The money, the suspect explained, "would go to people who deserve it."

Can you steal your own money? Can a legal defense be built around the idea that it wasn’t a bank robbery but actually as "taxpayer repossession"?

Chances are someone will try it soon – bank robberies are definitely on the rise. They jumped 19.5% during the fourth quarter of 2008 over the previous quarter.

Never mind the pollacks, UK store rebrands fish

UK grocery store chain Sainsbury’s believes a fish by any other name will sell better, so it is repackaging pollack as “colin.”

To an English ear, "pollack" sounds unfortunately like a slang word for testicles, as well being close to two other words used as insults, one of them racist.

Bollocks! My knowledge of Brit slang is so limited that I know only one of the words in question. The fish formerly known as pollack will now be called colin. This is pronounced “co-lan” which sounds a lot like colon to me. A sphincter says, what?*

Homonym a lot of trouble either way.

jacksonpollockfish Nice touch: Rebranding launched with limited-edition packaging inspired by abstract expressionist artist Jackson Pollock.


*Sorry, watched Wayne’s World again this weekend.

Nigeria launches re-branding campaign: “At least we’re not AIG”

nigeria_419_shirt Apparently having a name synonymous with corruption (for a good reason) is not all that good for your national image. So Africa’s most populous nation has decided to tackle it’s massive corruption problems with that most modern approach: Marketing.

“At international airports, in trains, in shopping malls, and almost everywhere, every Nigerian is a marked person,” Dora Akunyili, information minister and self-styled chief image maker said at the launch of the re-branding campaign this week. “We are pulled aside for questioning. We are seen as potential drug pushers or fraudsters. We are unfortunately denied the benefit of the doubt.”

Thus the new slogan “Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation.” And really they should’ve added: “At least we’re not AIG.”

Rebranding America

A post from Marketing 2.0 where I am also a contributor:

I cannot think of another brand that has had the total image change the US is attempting. It’s like trying to turn the Pinto into a Volvo. There’s no doubt that we need a rebranding. While there are no world-wide poll numbers on dissatisfaction with George W., it is safe to say they are at least as low as they are here at home.

Cynics will tell you — not incorrectly — that branding is all about image: New chrome, new font, new scent, new claims. The cynics are correct because they have seen this happen with repeatedly. (My favorite example: Anyone actually believe BP as an environmentally friendly oil company?)  (Read the rest by clicking here)