Build A Better Mousetrap And The World Will Call It Irving

What’s in a name? Shakespeare once said, “A rose planted in manure would still stink” Or something like that. Then again, Einstein quipped: “There are only two infinite things, the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not convinced about the first.” Somewhere in between these two great ideals, the human creature has created a friendly encouragement technique simply called, Marketing. The fundamental reason for marketing’s existence is to make us need stuff we don’t want, and want stuff we don’t need. Over the years they have been very successful. I mean they were able to sell us all on a company called AirBus.

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Think about it for a minute. If you live in a city, a bus is the last place you want to be. It’s crowed, there’s used gum on the seats, you always end up next to some guy who’s forgotten how to shower, and half the people there look like they just killed somebody. Think I’m nuts? Next time you’re on a bus, check the package of the guy next to you. I’ll wager a hundred it’s someone’s left arm, no longer attached. Busses are scary. The only advantage is they stop frequently and you can get off.

Now put this idea about thirty-five thousand feet in the air. You’re stuck. Probably next to somebody who might want to show you pictures of their kids’ birthday party, AHHHHHHHHHH!!! The driver is certainly not going to stop in midair, call out “Chicago”, And open the door for folks to exit. Even though after seeing Timmy’s face covered with cake for the sixteenth time, you may want to do just that.

Yet with all these negatives, Airbus is the largest airliner manufacturer in the world. How can this be? A bus in the air sounds like the worst thing ever, yet we embrace the idea. It’s all because of good marketing. Your name doesn’t matter when you have the correct marketing staff.

The best example of all this is the car industry. Car names don’t make any sense at all. Did you know that the equinox in the halfway point between two solstices? Now, please tell me what that has to do with driving? Yet there is a car called the Equinox. Does this mean it won’t go anyplace if day and night are not equal? Of course not. It’s just a cool word that some marketer thought he or she could sell to the public. Or how about tundra? Tundra is frozen barren earth. How am I supposed to get all excited about a new car when I’m thinking about a bitter cold wasteland? Oh boy that’s sexy, and I want it in green.

Don’t get me wrong, there are good names for cars. The mustang inspires the wild spirit of horses. Impalas are the world’s swiftest, sleekest antelopes. Corvettes are named for a fast and virtually uncatchable sailing vessel. All these are great names for cars, inspiring visions of freedom and speed. Although, I’m not so sure I’d drive a Chevy Corvette into the ocean. Even with the big tires and fiberglass body, I’m not sure it would float. It would take some one with a lot more cash than I have to perform that experiment. But I’m getting off topic.

Some names make a little sense in certain circumstances, like when I was teaching my son to drive. It would be great if every time he walked near his car, he could see the word “FOCUS” and be reminded of what he needs to do. Other names are cool, but placed on the wrong vehicle. The word cruise does remind us of simpler time when gas was cheap, and you could drive up and down the main road all night, looking to pick up girls. The thing is, the Chevy Cruze is a tiny economical car that wouldn’t impress any girl younger than your mother. A good car? Sure, but face it, it’s about as sexy as a minivan.

Then there are other names which don’t hit the mark. Trail Blazer is cool with that freedom thing again. It’s a good name, but they can’t leave well enough alone. Some genius decided it would be a good idea to shorten it to just “Blazer”. Now it conjures up visions of an uncomfortable jacket no one wears anymore. They would have been better off scrapping the whole idea and change the name to Business Casual. At least that has a feeling of comfort, and getting things done.

Another thing which bothers me a lot are the names that are just wannabes. Take the Navigator for example. A navigator is a valuable part of any expedition. True, but he needs a good compass. All this being said, none of theses really make the grade unless you have a good pilot. If all these are together, they would truly inspire greatness. But all four of these; the Lincoln Navigator, Ford Expedition, Jeep Compass, and Honda Pilot, are all made by different companies. So even the Grouping-For-Greatness idea doesn’t really work.

Then there’s the Cube. What can I say? It’s not. It looks a little cubey from the back, except all the angles are curved. I only learned a rare few things from high-school geometry, but I remember that cubes have sharp corners. Even putting this aside if you look at it from the side it looks nothing like a cube. More like two rectangles stuck together. And how does naming a car after a three-dimensional shape make me think, “Wow, I want to buy that and drive it around town”?

Also, I’m sure the Smart Car has a very high IQ, but it looks silly. In high-school we called a geeky looking, super smart person a nerd. Perhaps that car should have been called The Smart-Nerd. That might really entice the Bill Gates’s of the world. Maybe not, Nerds is already the name of some goofy looking candy, and I would hate to see some idiot trying to eat his goofy looking car. Then there’s the Cobalt. Cobalt is a shade of blue, and yet I saw a bright red one. Oh, the beautiful irony.

I guess the thing is, even with all the errors I have mentioned and the many I didn’t, marketing folks don’t actually care about reality. They are just plain good, and could probably sell a sports car called the Toilet. I wonder what an ad for that might sound like.

“With a whooshing sound like a water-tornado, the new Toilet flushes away the competition. Using its silver flip handles, the Toilet is surely the best seat on the road. It’s easily the throne of all this year’s automobiles, So, get rid of that piece of solid waste in your driveway and buy a Toilet.”

What do you think? And no, I won’t sing the theme song. Use your imagination.

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