Monday, August 27, 2012

two-and-a-bit-item list of the day

Brand names that I never really "got" until having a belated forehead-slapping moment of "oh, riiiigghht!" revelatory clarity surprisingly recently.
  • Jonelle - well, it's just some vaguely French name, isn't it, probably some obscure little French linen goods company that got bought up by some big conglomerate or something. It was only when I noticed that the goods were only ever sold at branches of John Lewis and nowhere else that my brain made the (in hindsight completely obvious, as these things always are) vital connection and I realised that it's just "John L" said in a comedy French accent. Merde pour les cerveaux!
  • Titleist - I always wondered why people pronounced this one wrong all the time as "tight-list". Just look at the spelling, you idiots! It's clearly "tit-lyste"; probably some obscure little German golf supplies company that got bought up by some big conglomerate or something. It was only after seeing some TV adverts that used the same "tight-list" pronunciation that I had to digest the unpalatable fact that everyone else was right and I was wrong. Having swallowed that bitter pill it was a short mental journey to realising that it's meant to be "title-ist", i.e. one who wins a lot of titles. Scheiße für Gehirne!
I do still maintain that Titleist is a pretty badly-thought-out brand-name, though; something totally unambiguous in pronunciation terms that conveys the same message would be better, like perhaps Titlehound or Titlewrangler or Titlemonger. The only disadvantage of any of those would be the 50% increase in the size of golf balls that would be required in order to fit the logo on.

In terms of badly-thought-out advertising, though, you'd have to go a long way to beat the Enterprise Rent-A-Car advert that's currently doing the rounds. Here it is; check out the little exchange of trans-Atlantic mutual incomprehension that starts at about 22 seconds in:
Yank: Give Enterprise a try - just look for the aluminum signs!
Brit: Aluminium.
Yank: (laughs) No it's not.
Brit: It is. It's got a "u" in it.
Yank: Shut up!
Brit: No, I'm serious: aluminium.
Now this is of course all very droll in a two-nations-divided-by-a-common-language kind of way, but a moment's thought will reveal that it doesn't make any sense. In order for it to have made sense the British guy should have said "It's got an "i" in it", that being the letter by which the words "aluminum" and "aluminium" differ. Others have noticed as well. That the so-called "creatives" in whatever advertising agency dreamed the advert up (and it must be said that it's a pretty dreadful and lazy piece of clichéd hackery even aside from the crass error) just waved this through the review process without noticing it is a testament to the heroic amounts of cocaine they must all have been on at the time.

Just to be clear, incidentally, the deal that was struck with IUPAC in 1990 is that the Brits get their spelling of "aluminium" as the official standard, but that in return the Americans get their spelling of "sulfur" as the official standard. So actually the British guy in the video is right, despite also being wrong.


The Black Rabbit said...

Never heard of Jonelle. (I'll take your word on that). The orange women frighten me in John Lewis; (you know, the ones that squirt smelly stuff at you as you walk through the white perfume hall - or maybe that's just me... I obviously stink like fresh donkey doo-doo or something).

Always called Titleist "Tight-list" but didn't know why. Then again, having preferred Maxfli when I started playing and now Srixon (when I've stopped again!) hardly ever got to say "Tight-list" or "tit-lyste"...

As for Enterprise, the spooky thing is, pretty well as you wrote your blog post on their crappy thoughtless Aluminum reference, I was angrily pointing out the self same ting to Anna.

Incredibly lazy and thick the Enterprise ad men. (cocaine or not.)

electrichalibut said...

I don't know whether they still promote the Jonelle brand (it doesn't seem to appear on their website any more), but it used to be the label on all their bedding, towels, that sort of thing. I'm sure I've still got a few somewhere.

"Srixon" is a bit weird, too. Apparently it's because it started out as a subsidiary of Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI). Fascinating.