I am quick to point out to people that they should think long and hard about naming their children so that the kids don’t later get beat up on the playground. (Kids are not only cruel but also remarkably creative.) Apparently the same principle holds for inanimate objects. This isn’t specifically economics-related, but I was too amused by it to not point it out. Here is yesterday’s Dilbert cartoon:
When I was a management consultant, I worked for a small firm that had Pfizer as its main client. I worked for a while on a project for Pfizer’s trademark group, and I have to admit that the main thing I remember is that it is remarkably complex and expensive to come up with a name for a pharmaceutical product. Basically, Pfizer hires a pharmaceutical marketing group (usually within an ad agency) to come up with a list of several hundred potential names. It then has its paralegals go through the names to see which ones are clearly too close to the names of existing products to be used for new products. Once the list is cut down to the main contenders, preliminary trademark documents are filed in a number of countries. The names are then subjected to various forms of market testing, from focus groups that try to get at the subconscious connotations of the names to doctor interviews that determine how legible the names would be in doctor handwriting. Once there are a handful of potential options that pass these tests, the top name choice is sent to the FDA for approval. If the name is approved, the trademark is registered in basically every country that has intellectual property protection laws. (In case you were curious, all of this goes on in parallel with the clinical trial and patent process.)
Given the exhaustive nature of this process, I am shocked that awkward names continue to appear in the marketplace. From yesterday’s Consumerist, which apparently has excellent comedic timing:
Remember how when you were writing essays in school teachers would say that you should read your work aloud before handing it in? To see if you could catch any typos or strange-sounding phrases? Well, the nomenclature-smiths who came up with heartburn drug “Aciphex,” seem to have forgotten that important lesson. Watch the ad and you’ll hear what I’m talking about: “Fred, you have acid reflux disease. I want you to try prescription ass effects.”
Well there’s a few million dollars well spent right there. I can only imagine what the other names in contention were.