If One Automaker Can Let the Public Name a Model, Why Not Others?
Volkswagen Group’s Seat division has turned to Twitter to figure out a name for its upcoming three-row SUV. Yes, an automaker has entered the wild and woolly world of 140-character outrage in order to start a hashtag campaign, one destined to yield both a model name and positive PR.
Imagine, an automaker asking its fans what name they’d like to see on their seven-seater. Makes you feel all cozy and loved. There’s only one rule for naming suggestions: the 2018 SUV must have a name derived from Spanish geography, much like existing models.
While the company’s ( campaign is both cute and trendy — and thus a little insufferable — it has this writer wondering if other automakers should do the same. Never mind looking like a follower, and never mind the inevitable jokes.
There’s value in “regular” people’s opinions.
If I had my way, the Chevrolet Cruze would carry a very different moniker. “Cruze” — it still seems weird, and I say that as a Cruze owner. And what about EcoSport? The name already affixed to Ford’s upcoming, yanked-from-overseas subcompact crossover could use a fresh dose of imagination.
Don’t get me started on Mitsubishi’s 2018 Eclipse Cross. Heads should roll for that decision.
While Seat’s hashtag campaign runs until June 22, the effort has already yielded mixed results. “Llama” was one Twitter user’s suggestion, no doubt implying a deep love for Spanish pistols that bear a striking resemblance to American models.
“Gibraltar”? Nice try, internet, but the big rock is still under British rule. Spain wishes it could get its hands on that thing.
“Avalancha”? General Motors might have a problem with it, but the word — which means exactly what you think it does — does convey a sense of unstoppable power. Unless, of course, the commenter was referencing the fourth album from 1990s Spanish rock group Héroes del Silencio.
Perhaps unaware of past American and British Fords, one lady kindly suggested “Granada,” a name Seat should avoid at all costs. This SUV will not come with a standard 88-horsepower four-cylinder and four-speed stick.
Naturally, given the openness and diversity of social media, some wags added their two cents to the mix. Two automotive publications (Irish and Canadian) chimed in with a suggestion of “Seat McSeatyface.” We all recall where that particular idea came from. Seat was just asking for it.
In all likelihood, Seat already has its own list of favorites, making this hashtag campaign an exercise in weighing its own thoughts versus the public’s. Expect the name of a lake, island, river, mountain or seaside town to appear on that SUV. Still, it’s nice when the buying public feels as if it has some sort of pull with an automaker. As well, expert opinions aren’t necessarily useful.
Just recall the infamous list of naming suggestions sent to Ford Motor Company by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Marianne Moore in 1955. At the time, Ford’s marketing team was attempting to drum up a name for what would become the 1958 Edsel line of cars. Moore was sent a list of qualities (which the actual product never possessed) as brain food.
Her suggestions are a warning for what can happen when you think too much. The list included “Utopian Turtletop,” Mongoose Civique” and “The Intelligent Whale.”
Fordy McFordface doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? To be fair to Ms. Moore, two of her suggestions — “Intelligent Bullet” and “The Resilient Bullet” — sound pretty badass. I know what I’m going to call my vendetta-themed action movie now.
While we can criticize existing names all day, one automaker is legitimately in need of a new model name, and fairly soon: Hyundai. As part of its upcoming crossover lineup revamp, the three-row Santa Fe will gain a new moniker to separate it from the shorter Santa Fe Sport. We can only assume the preferred name will be a locale in the U.S. Southwest.
Albuquerque? Flagstaff? Provo, maybe? Hyundai needs to tap its Twitter followers.
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Two word answer: Boaty McBoatface https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/22/world/europe/boaty-mcboatface-what-you-get-when-you-let-the-internet-decide.html