It’s normal enough to hear about these name changes, I can remember getting nicknames such as “Cannonball,” “You,” and a gamut of others, but how about when a city decides to do this? Nothing weird with that, is there?
Well, if you haven’t heard of anything like that happening, here’s why; it’s occurred in approximately less than 100 instances3 (for a list of cities that have done this, see the link below).
Now how many of you have heard of a place called Altoona, PA? Give or take, if you’re from around the Pittsburgh area you might know it, but even if you know the place, you probably know that there’s nothing going on there, and as much as you may fancy a good bowling game, you can get that just about anywhere.
Well, lo and behold, say goodbye to the city formerly known as Altoona! This city is getting an extreme makeover, so give a warm welcome to…!
In a publicity stunt to bring awareness to the zany and all out ridiculous nature of modern advertising techniques, the city of Altoona in collaboration with Morgan Spurlock made a deal to change its name for 60 days to go along with the timing of the opening and showing of the movie, “Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” on the East coast1.
So what does this name change mean for the city? On the surface, the mailing address won’t be changed, nor will pretty much anything else change (physically) seeing as the name change is only temporary and ceremonial. That said, doesn’t look like much is in store for the city, however, a look at the financial situation of Altoona and you wonder if maybe they’re in it for the big bucks that the movie paid them to do this name change. Well, to the tune of $25,000, I’d hardly say that the people of Altoona will be enjoying a host of reforms, with free education, healthcare and the like. The real change is more likely to be found in the attitude of the city’s citizens. Varying with individual perceptions, it’s likely that on the whole, the city might get a little more life and rejuvenation from this gag in that people’s self-perceptions and identity with the city will become altered. There’s also the possibility for the publicity to draw in a minor amount of cult enthusiasm and tourism, which could help bring a new feel to the city along with potential cash flows.
I myself wouldn’t actually mind going to check out the city now, just because of the name change and also because Spurlock had actually been there and affected the city in a very unique way.
Without the numbers or any good estimates, I can’t provide any form of real forecasting on what the actual monetary gains might be for these companies, nonetheless I do expect there to be many benefits for them in terms of new customers and increased sales. This is specific to the nature of the film. If it wasn’t done in the style it was, the advertising could have very well had a strong negative effect on the many companies directly involved, and negative spillover could have potentially rocked a good chunk of the advertising world leaving companies to face an even more suspicious consumer base.
I also believe after having done some minute research on the overall college market that this movie could be the best possible manner in which to appeal to college students. The college market is so diversified in its nature and so incredibly aware of the world of constant advertising it lives in, that most all advertising is blocked out before it even has a chance to reach the ears of the intended audience. Years of exposure has taught this demographic where not to look on a computer screen, what to expect from websites like youtube that show ads, and how to fast forward through commercials with devices such as TiVo, and marketers are fairly close to yanking the hairs out of there head in frustration with their inability to capitalize on such a powerful demographic. With the power to influence technological purchases by providing assistance to older individuals (parents), the likely access to parental income (as an extension of their own monetary provisions), and the influential “cool” factor that they have over younger teens and children(siblings), it’s no wonder that this market is so valued in the minds’ of marketers. My take on it, is that humor in every culture is very influential and well reciprocated when suited to the audience’s tastes. What this audience wants is the humor I described earlier. It’s quite smart, and trickery is not well reciprocated and in most cases, quickly discovered.
I’m off to go see “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” and I encourage everyone else to check this movie out. Yes, this is shameless advertising, but if I endorse it, maybe there’s something to it. Heck might be a bit too late, but maybe I can even get a scholarship from these guys if I change my blogger name to the movie title and publish this article. Wouldn’t that be nice?
(Thought posed to the reader: When you go out into the workforce, the essence of what is described here is an actual aspect of what’s transpiring. You are being paid, yes to work for the company, but to have their logo placed on you and for you to enhance their own image and product. So how much are you willing to sell yourself for in business world?)