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Well, you’re right, of course. “Column” is a pretty lame title for a column. And I’ve got to admit, while I did take some time writing this thing, I took about as long naming it as Courtney Love takes getting dressed in the morning.

But is this any different than how we name TV spots?

Seriously, I can’t understand why it is that a bunch of people who are supposed to be so creative can’t seem to come up with a decent title for a TV spot. What, it takes so much creative energy coming up with a great commercial, we can’t muster up an erg or two for a halfway creative name for the thing?

I’m looking through a bunch of randomly chosen CA Advertising Annuals. Not that I want to single anyone out here, OK? But here’s what I’m talking about. Fox Sports. This is from their If-Only-Every-Question-Was-A-Sports-Question campaign. You know the spot. Young guy on a train. Attractive young woman sitting across from him breast feeding a baby. Funny. Know what the title is?

Baby. That’s it. Baby.

Here’s another one. Alta Vista. I love this spot. Gary Kasparov gets stumped by this kid who was smart enough to ask Alta Vista: “How Do I Beat Kasparov’s Evans Gambit?” Brilliant. Know what Wieden Kennedy calls this gem? That’s right. Chess.

You’ve seen Birthday, right? Sure you have. Goodby Silverstein? Milk? Weird, kind of Damien kid tells the other kids at the birthday party, “Don’t Eat The Cake”? I don’t know. I might have named it Cake. But that’s just my opinion.

How about Hamster? And Wind, do you love that one or what? There’s the very cool Joe, of course. I’d be completely remiss, trust me, if I didn’t at least give a passing nod to the very hysterical Roy. And I just want to go on record here as saying that if Famous doesn’t end up on the 100 Best Spots Of All Time reel someday, well, I’ll shoot myself.

You know, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’ve got this whole thing wrong and who really gives a tinker’s dam about naming TV spots? It’s the content that matters, right? And if that’s true, just think of the strides creative people outside the advertising business could make if they’d just stop putting so darn much time into naming their work.

Well, take Hollywood screenwriters for instance. Guys, can we please get with the program!!! Quit wasting precious development time coming up with these catchy movie titles and let’s just stick with the actual movie, OK?

As Good As It Gets? Excuse me? What the heck is wrong with, say, Nut? What, you’re telling me Raiders of the Lost Ark is better than Archaeologist? Not buying it. And what is up with Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World? Wouldn’t Boat have been a better choice?

As for you literary types, the same goes for you. What in the heck was Tom Clancy smoking when he came up with The Hunt for Red October or The Cardinal of the Kremlin or The Sum of All Fears? Hoo boy! Talk about a waste of creative energy. Unfortunately, Tom was never an ad guy. Because if he had been, he would have had the good sense to come up with something like, you know, Submarine and Russians and Nuke.

And all you corporations out there, listen up because this name thing goes for you, too. I say this. Why pay good money to name that new SUV or that basketball shoe or that toaster, when you could just make everyone’s life a whole lot simpler and just bag this whole clever name thing?

Memo to Phil Knight: Great shoes, those Air Jordans. Could have been even better if you guys had put a little more time into the shoe and a little less into the name. Just something to think about.

And you car manufacturers. Man, you guys really need to change your priorities. Is it true you people have been known to spend millions of dollars or marks or yen or whatever to name a car? Why?!! Just my opinion, here, but given a choice between a car that doesn’t blow up, burning over 95% of my body, and having the satisfaction of knowing I am the proud owner of, say, a Silver Phantom, I think I’ll go with option A.

At first, I didn’t think this simple-minded approach to titles was such a good idea. Seems lazy, you know? Although I can see the advantages. So I’m definitely going to have to give it some further thought. Just as soon as I finish editing this video I’m putting together of my daughter’s debut as a snowflake in The Nutcracker. I was going to call it “When Winter Angels Float Through My Window.” But maybe I’ll just go with “Snowflake.” What do you think? ca
Ernie Schenck (ernieschenckcreative.prosite.com) is a freelance writer, a creative director and a regular contributor to CA’s Advertising column. An Emmy finalist, three-time Kelley nominee and a perennial award winner—the One Show, Clios, D&AD, Emmys and Cannes—Schenck worked on campaigns for some of the most prestigious brands in the world in his roles at Hill Holliday/Boston, Leonard Monahan Saabye and Pagano Schenck & Kay. He lives with his wife and daughter in Jamestown, Rhode Island.
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