“Accidents” can be the answers

When I was on the advertising side of communications I had many unique experiences. Because everything wasn’t ready until the last minute  a chartered  plane took me to  Lake Placid,  New York – the plane was crammed full with presentation binders, displays, and all the necessary multimedia equipment  to deliver an annual product introduction for a major multinational company. I thought we were completely prepared for anything; oops, nobody thought to mention the unconventional  power generating system at the famous winter resort we were heading to that would grind our “gear” to a halt. We ended up improvising as a small army of volunteers manually advanced the phalanx of slide projectors cued with scripts hastily reworked on site. A minor victory over technology bugs; and  to this day I always have back up plans and try to be as “self contained” as possible for any presentation. Accidents do happen, sometimes with fortuitous result, which is the moral to this story.

One of the clients I worked with in those days was Corning, Inc. – their Biomedical division had just introduced an innovative piece of laboratory equipment, a blood gas meter, but it wasn’t selling well partly because it was different technology than the market was accustomed to using. It wasn’t selling well except in one particular sales territory where it was doing great, and I talked to the sales rep about his surprising success. “Well when I go back for my sample unit, the  lab won’t let me take it, they try it and they buy it.”  Of course he wasn’t supposed to leave his very expensive sample unit, just show it during his sales presentation. Thus was born the “Borrow A Meter” campaign, and one of the most successful product launches I can remember.

We can’t control everything. Unanticipated things happen. When that occurs you just might be able to use the result to advantage if you’re open to consider something different than what you expected.


Bookmark and Share

“Freedom Tower” vs. “1 World Trade Center”

What’s in a name? Just about everything. Last week the owners of ground zero decided the  name “Freedom Tower” which was to be used for the most prominent of the several  new buildings being constructed on the site of the terrorist destroyed twin towers just didn’t send the right message and have opted instead to use the name associated with the former north tower “1 World Trade Center”.

Symbolism abounds as ground zero resurrects itself. The building in question should be ready in 2013, and will rise to a height of exactly 1776 feet at the very top of its antenna.  It is designed to evoke the Statue of Liberty. It will become America’s  tallest building.

I have stood at ground zero. Only the most callous of hearts is not affected in its presence.

That being said, I want to focus in this post on more mundane yet still important matters. This name switch calls attention to  issues relating to “branding” and “brand identity” (watch for an up-coming post all about “branding” and the naming process). The developers have legitimate concerns that prospective tenants might see the “Freedom Tower” name as putting a bullseye on the building. The general populace finds the same name appealing in that it clearly makes a “don’t tread on me” statement.

Pragmatic considerations apparently are holding sway in naming this “tower”, which is, it should be recognized, one of several “towers” associated with the overall site development which also incorporates a memorial and museum, a performing arts center, as well as other elements. The meaningfulness of the overall re-development of the ground zero site to all Americans cannot be overstated. It is the sum of the total that I think matters most; for individual elements of the project, as with any naming decision, mulitple factors must be considered.

In fact, using the name of the destroyed tower has significance of its own. In any naming process, the heart of the matter is to  carefully screen all the name options (and there should always be options) against a set of specific criteria; a name that just has a certain “ring” to it, may literally sound good, but if the name doesn’t “work”  it should not be used. All too often, naming gets too little attention.

While on the subject of the importance of names, we must ensure the names of  those who perished as a result of the September 11th attacks are enshrined in our national memory. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is dedicated to this purpose. $300 million has been raised towards its fundraising goal of $350 million. Those who wish to contribute to the construction of the memorial can do so at the following site:



Bookmark and Share

%d bloggers like this: