April 29, 2005
Romance behind dark glasses
Contrary to popular belief romantic novels have not gone out of fashion. I knew that there was an annual literary prize for a romantic novel. I’ve only recently found out that this is the 'FosterGrant Reading Glasses Romantic Novel of the Year'. Now there’s a title that requires a deep breath to say.
This year the award received plenty of press attention. The prize went to Katharine Davies for her book ‘A Good Voyage’ which is loosely based on Twelfth Night. I may well buy the book, as ‘Twelfth Night’ is a play that I like. Well-done and good luck to Katharine! I hope the book is worthy of my financial investment.
The announcement of the award kindled thoughts of FosterGrant glasses. I must admit I’d not given the brand much thought for a long time. I’m aware of FosterGrant ready-made magnifying spectacles purchased in chemists and supermarkets. This is because I’ve bought three pairs in the last five years on occasions when I’ve forgotten my spectacles and had to buy some in order to be able to read anything for the rest of the day. It’s a grudge purchase, even though it won’t break the bank. Needless to say they don’t quite work as my eyes have different prescriptions, but at least I can read with them. I counted a total of five pairs of these ‘ready made’ specs in my bits-and-bobs draw in the office and these specs have only ever been worn for one day! A trip to the charity shop beckons. I wonder whether I am excessively forgetful.
I think of FosterGrant as a brand of the 70s when it had a higher profile as one of the fashion brands for sunglasses. The 70s was a great period for the rise of designer eyewear and there was a big increase in the sales of sunglasses. They became an essential part of the wardrobe, elevated from a purely functional product. You had to have a pair, preferably a good pair. ‘Good’ being funky and preferably with a name on them, Polaroid lenses etc. Choosing them was a matter of great consideration.
An established US brand FosterGrant launched in the UK in the 1970s with a celebrity-endorsed campaign “Who’s that behind those FosterGrants?”. These ads starred a variety of famous people such as Woody Allen, Peter Sellers, Mia Farrow, Raquel Welch and even Vanessa Redgrave (not someone I associate with celebrity endorsement of products). Elvis was also a FosterGrant wearer Ah ha...
More recently the celebrities they’ve used are model Cindy Crawford and Honor Blackman, who has been promoting the reading glass collection as part of the celebration of 75 years in the sunglasses business.
The FosterGrant name does suggest its origins lie in the name of a small business, and opticians. Many opticians have the proprietors name over the door. One around the corner from me was called Rind & Abrahams, which I rather liked for sheer eccentricity.
The rise of sunglasses went hand-in-hand with increased foreign travel – the package holiday to Spain came into its own. The Polaroid lens had given rise to better and cheaper sunglasses and they became essential for protecting the eyes. You needed them in order to enjoy your holiday and the sunny weather to the full; you couldn’t lie on the beach all day without them!
For decades celebrities have worn dark glasses as protection from the light of flash bulbs and as a means of disguise (oh really!). Think urban Cary Grant, luscious Sophia Loren, and elfin Audrey Hepburn all in their dark specs. Glamorous and wonderfully untouchable people, very ‘don’t touch me I’m in dark glasses!’ Sunglasses were essential kit for strutting your celebrity stuff and relaxing in Monticarlo. Celebrity association and the rise of designer brands go hand-in-hand. Just like handbags and clothing brands your sunglasses say a lot about you and go to forming a statement about who and what you are. Brands like FosterGrant and Ray-Bans have always used this as part of their promotional activity.
I delight in seeing David Beckham’s face emblazoned on posters and in ads for the premier eyewear Police specs brand. He photographs so well and the camera certainly loves him. When his playing career is over a modelling career could beckon Beckham. He’s got the body, the attitude and the profile. If he’s well managed and chooses his work well he could do very nicely.
De Rigo’s POLICE brand has been a tremendous success in over 80 countries. The Police name is clever in its simplicity. The word ‘Police’ is so well recognised across so many languages. It’s highly recognisable and understood. As a single word it is eye-catching and memorable and distinctive within the marketplace. The fact that these specs are not specifically for police officers doesn’t matter. The name also fits with the positioning of ‘Aggressive Urban’ with an American lifestyle. Beckham is the ‘spokesman’ for the brand in Europe and George Clooney in the US.
De Rigo’s stable of brands is impressive including Etro, Loewe, La Perla, and Givenchy. Furla, Lozza and a recent collection for Mini. The STING brand is promoted by Michael Schumacher and is aimed at the contemporary European market. It’s less extreme but still modern. Endorsement by celebrities remains key for the premium eyewear sector and De Rigo completely understand this.
FosterGrant occupy a different space within the market, but also aspire to many of the same qualities and propositions as the other brand. FosterGrant may not be a premium brand but it has its place. It’s a pity it doesn’t have a ‘Police’ type name, but it does have longevity and provenance and some nice products. The parent company site fostergrant.com is in the process of being updated. I did note that they still use the strapline “Who’s that behind those FosterGrants?”. The UK site uses “Whoever you want to be”.
Romantic Novelists’ Association
April 26, 2005
What's hot right now...
LingoLAB associate and trendsetter, Kristina Dryza looks at what's 'hot' right now, including 'Vaastu Shastra' (Indian version of feng shui), 'biodynamic farming' and 'midnight breakfasts' .......
April 23, 2005
GAP names new store concept
Gap Inc.unveiled yesterday that 'Forth & Towne' is the name of the company's new women's retail concept. Forth & Towne represents the newest concept in Gap Inc.'s family of brands, which includes Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy.
"Launching the brand Forth & Towne, which focuses on women over the age of 35, represents an important long-term growth opportunity for Gap Inc.," said Paul Pressler Gap Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer, at the company's investor update meeting.
Forth & Towne will launch in four test stores in the Chicago market and one in New York in the Autumn. It will offer a broad range of sizes, with a focus on fit, and assortments that serve a variety of occasions.
"We created an address with the name 'Forth & Towne,' because we wanted it to evoke a sense of place - to signify a special and unique shopping destination," explained Gary Muto President, Forth & Towne. "'Forth' references our fourth brand, and 'Towne' conveys a sense of community that we want to create for our customers when they shop with us." I appreciate their thinking behind the name but personally feel that it sounds too old a name for the target market and makes me think of country casuals and 'polo-necks'! Maybe not the look and feel they were hoping for!
Gap Inc.'s newest brand will offer fashionable attire and accessories, targeting women over the age of 35. A rapidly growing segment of the population, this group's spending power accounts for about 39 percent of women's total apparel expenditures.
It will be fascinating to see whether the target market aspires to be labelled “over 35 and to see how the new brand name is received, especially when 'Forth & Towne' when shortened will be pronounced as 'FAT'! Maybe not that appealing then to the target market?
About Gap Inc.
Gap Inc. is a leading international specialty retailer offering clothing, accessories and personal care products for men, women, children and babies under the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brand names. Fiscal 2004 sales were $16.3 billion. Gap Inc. operates about 3,000 stores in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Japan. For more information, please visit gapinc.com.
April 22, 2005
Last time out I queried the value of values and warned that they can misfire. For example, Enron’s were ‘Communication. Respect. Integrity. Excellence.’
To see if others agreed with me I duly consulted Google and found a mixed bag of opinions …
A major global study of corporate values conducted in 2004 by Booz Allen Hamilton and The Aspen Institute with senior executives at 365 companies in 30 countries found that 89% had a written corporate values statement and 90% specified ethical conduct as a principle.
“Most companies believe values influence two important strategic areas—relationships and reputations—but do not see the direct link to growth.”
“Most senior executives are surprisingly lax in quantifying a return on values. Fewer than half say they can draw a direct link to revenue and earnings growth.”
“At Xerox, CEO Anne Mulcahy says that corporate values “helped save Xerox during the worst crisis in our history,” and that “living our values” has been one of Xerox’s five performance objectives for the past several years. “
One Stone Payton writes “Most corporate values, like most mission statements and sales brochures, are nothing more than a four-color collection of broken promises and reasons not to buy. At best, they're often sterile platitudes polished to a high gloss for the new PowerPoint~ or annual report. At worst, simply the latest in an endless (and meaningless) barrage of ‘Tower Talk’.”
An article in Harvard Business Review states “Most values statements, are bland, toothless, or just plain dishonest. And far from being harmless, as some executives assume, they're often highly destructive. Empty values statements create cynical and dispirited employees and undermine managerial credibility.
But coming up with strong values--and sticking to them--isn't easy. Organizations that want their values statements to really mean something should follow four imperatives. First, understand the different types of values: core, aspirational, permission-to-play and accidental. Second, be aggressively authentic. Third, own the process. Finally, weave core values into everything. Living by stated corporate values is difficult. But the benefits of doing so can be profound; so can the damage from adopting a hollow set of corporate values.”
To close, here’s a gem. “We have a rule at Scient: "No assholes." You may say that's very stupid, but if you bring in someone who is an asshole, who's hard driving, and who's been successful, but who doesn't understand how things have changed, you'll blow up that office, blow up that project, blow up that client more quickly than you'd imagine. So values are fundamentally important for running a business.”
© 2005 Johnny Bruce is a seasoned copywriter (www.adverb.co.uk) and a LingoLAB associate.
April 07, 2005
How the Pope gets named...
After the sad news of Pope John Paul II's death, an article by the Sydney Morning Herald has looked into how the next Pope's, first task will be to choose the name he wants to carry during his pontificate, with history and personal faith guiding him in making a choice suitable for the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
His choice will likely reflect his own theological or personal preferences rather than dogma, and no doubt will be studied by Vatican watchers for signs as to how he intends to take forward the papacy.
The Polish-born Pope John Paul II, who died early on Sunday, tactfully chose his moniker in 1978 -- he was born Karol Wojtyla -- to ensure continuity after the death of his predecessor, John Paul I, after only a month in office.
John Paul I, previously known as Albino Luciano and the first Pope to use a double name, chose it in honour of his two immediate predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI.
So will there be a John Paul III? Possibly.
When cardinals, the "princes of the church" who rank higher than any other ecclesiastic but the Pope, agree on a successor in their conclave later this month, he will be asked if he accepts, and how he wishes to be known.
He can choose a Latinised form of his Christian name, a saint's name or the name of an earlier Pope.
He may also want to pick a name that would attribute a virtue to him, such as Pius (pious), Innocent or Clement (merciful).
Some allow personal considerations to guide them, such as Pope John XXII, who chose his name to honour the memory of his father.
However, Peter is a name seen as out of bounds out of respect to the first ever Pope, Saint Peter, who was a disciple of Jesus. In 1009, a cardinal named Peter switched to Sergius IV, as he felt that to become Peter II was presumptuous.
The given names most often chosen have been John (23 times), Gregory (16), Clement (14), Innocent (13), Leo (13) and Pius (12).
Up to the end of the first millennium, popes generally kept their Christian name.
The first to buck tradition was John II in 533. Born Mercury, he decided he could not reasonably head the church with the name of a pagan Roman god.
The first papal name to be repeated was Sixtus. The first Sixtus took the pontificate in the second century and there have been four others.
As with kings and emperors, a Roman numeral is added if the Pope has had a namesake as predecessor -- John Paul I was unusual in not waiting for history to decide if anyone else wanted to be known by the same name.
Vatican experts on Catholic websites say that while the next Pope may want to show willingness to continue in the same vein as his predecessor by being called John Paul III.
On the other hand, the late Pope's lengthy stint in office, 26 years, may prove an incentive to embark on a new path.
The experts suggest that, given an increasing emphasis on the teachings of the gospels, another disciple's name might be appropriate.
Becoming John XXIV may indicate a desire for further reforming the church. Choosing Paul VII might show a desire to pursue a strong moral stance.
Becoming Pius XIII may suggest a return to tradition, and perhaps even the unwinding of some of the radical changes over the past decades.
A Gregory might want to restore many of the church's lost treasures such as its beautiful liturgy and music.
So, not as easy as it seems but when was naming ever easy!!
April 05, 2005
What's in a name?
Choosing a suitable name for a business is a far from easy task. A report says that 24% of small UK firms spent less than 10 minutes on one of their most important business decisions....
An article by the Evening Gazette asks, 'What's in a brand? A new report says choosing a suitable name for a business is a far from easy task. Get it wrong and it can be a turn-off to customers. More than a quarter of 200 small UK firms interviewed about how they chose their name, admitted that they had spent less than an hour on deciding on what they were going to be called, while 24% spent less than 10 minutes on one of their most important business decisions....
LingoLAB is a creative naming agency,
creating the language that makes brands successful.