Friday, February 20, 2009

Rebranding Chutzpah

If anyone thought we have run out of jokes about lipstick on a pit bull, Tom Engelhardt's latest post to The Notion, one of the blogs managed by The Nation, has reminded us that even the meanest pit bull is not beyond submitting to an extreme makeover:

The name search took a year, while the company became persona non grata in Iraq, but now it's a reality. The notorious Blackwater Worldwide has officially rebranded itself Xe. According to a company memo, "Xe will be a one-stop shopping source for world class services in the fields of security, stability, aviation, training and logistics."

It's pronounced "Zee," by the way, and it's also, oddly enough, the symbol for Xenon, a colorless, odorless noble gas found in trace amounts in the Earth's atmosphere. If only Blackwater and its ilk in the hire-a-gun private security business were found, under whatever names, in mere trace amounts in American foreign and military policy. But no such luck.

We really did not need further evidence that people (even the ones who write checks for the United States Government) think more about brand names than about the product bearing the name. This is not even necessarily a case of cynicism, just a matter of good marketing practices. Nevertheless, given the reputation that this particular "product" has accrued over the last eight years, there still has to be an element of chutzpah behind the reasoning that changing the name will be sufficient to restore the reputation. Thus, to help them furnish the new offices that are sure to go with their new name, the senior management of Xe will receive this week's Chutzpah of the Week award, which can be displayed proudly to all prospective customers!

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