Steven Hodson wrote an excellent post earlier today entitled How to tell PR jerks don’t have a clue who you are. Sometimes it seems like some (not all) PR folks are intent on blitzing the message of the day to as many people as possible, in the hopes that someone will pick the message up and run with it. Unfortunately, sometimes they send the message to someone who has absolutely no interest in helping them push the message that they want to push.
Hodson got a message from a PR person regarding an Apple iPhone product. This is what he said:
After all I have written before about what I think of the iPhone and it even came up as a subject on a podcast or two. So please explain to me then why a PR firm wouldn’t be able to figure out that the iPhone or any applications for it are not a big subject of discussion here....
If anyone from the PR firm had taken even a few minutes to do even the simplest search of the blog they would have seen that it wouldn’t be worth sending me anything to do with the iPhone.
For the record, if you do a simple search of WinExtra, you'll encounter posts with titles such as WTF Is Wrong With Apple? and The iPhone fails the First Use test. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Hodson is not an Apple fanboy.
But that's not my hot topic. My hot topic is the name of the product that the PR jerk wanted Hodson to promote.
The name? ICOON.
Yes, ICOON. I couldn't figure out how any American company could come out with a phone called the ICOON.
But I should have realized two things:
- Hodson is Canadian.
- The product is German.
You don’t need dictionaries in different languages to communicate on your journeys.
Just use ICOON! This collection is as hands-on as it is humorous and divides essential
everyday symbols into twelve different categories: from clothing, hygiene products
and health to administration and leisure activities. Regardless of whether you need a
toothbrush, safety pin or swimsuit, or want to explain hay fever without using words.
ICOON speaks the world’s most universal language: pictures....
D-10178 Berlin (Germany)
Fon: +49 (0) 30 288 84 85 - 90
Fax: +49 (0) 30 288 84 85 - 99
Well, ICOON may speak the world's most universal language, but they obviously aren't familiar with some of the interesting things in American English. Take the I off of ICOON, and what do you get?
The coon caricature is one of the most insulting of all anti-Black caricatures. The name itself, an abbreviation of raccoon, is dehumanizing. As with Sambo, the coon was portrayed as a lazy, easily frightened, chronically idle, inarticulate, buffoon. The coon differed from the Sambo in subtle but important ways. Sambo was depicted as a perpetual child, not capable of living as an independent adult. The coon acted childish, but he was an adult; albeit a good-for-little adult. Sambo was portrayed as a loyal and contented servant. Indeed, Sambo was offered as a defense for slavery and segregation. How bad could these institutions have been, asked the racialists, if Blacks were contented, even happy, being servants? The coon, although he often worked as a servant, was not happy with his status. He was, simply, too lazy or too cynical to attempt to change his lowly position. Also, by the 1900s, Sambo was identified with older, docile Blacks who accepted Jim Crow laws and etiquette; whereas coons were increasingly identified with young, urban Blacks who disrespected Whites. Stated differently, the coon was a Sambo gone bad.
The prototypical movie coon was Stepin Fetchit, the slow-talking, slow-walking, self-demeaning nitwit. It took his character almost a minute to say: "I'se be catchin' ma feets nah, Boss."
Now, regardless about how you personally may feel about political correctness and the like, if you are marketing a product then you want to make it attractive to people who might want to buy the product. And while GoMoNews may enthuse about the product, it is an odd name.
Or is it? iAppCat describes the origins of the product:
The book bestseller ICOON global picture dictionary, is now conveniently available for your iPhone and iPod touch!
ICOON is a universal phrase book no savvy traveller is complete without. You don’t need dictionaries in different languages to communicate on your journeys: Just use ICOON! This collection is as hands-on as it is humorous and divides essential everyday symbols into twelve different categories: from clothing, hygiene products and health to administration and leisure activities. Regardless of whether you need a toothbrush, safety pin or swimsuit, or want to explain hay fever without using words. ICOON speaks the world’s most universal language: pictures.
This special digital version offers a selection of the most important symbols from the bestselling designer icon collection. 500 symbols from bandage to broccoli.
Or perhaps this just means that the ICOON folks are culturally insensitive in two media. Sphere: Related Content