COLUMN: On the perils of asking for naming help

Going to the public for input on naming anything from a product to a landmark is often well-intentioned but also ripe for backfiring.

Spectacularly, in some cases.

The most egregious incident I can think of is when a third party promoter held a naming contest for a new flavour of Mountain Dew, in a campaign known as ‘Dub the Dew’ back in 2012.

The concept was simple — people could go online, post their creative suggestions for this new flavour, and everyone could vote on the most popular entries.

Lets just say things didn’t exactly go as planned.

Internet trolls caught wind of the campaign and started submitting extremely offensive suggestions for this new flavour, one of which was ‘Hitler Did Nothing Wrong’.

The internet being the internet, that particular suggestion — and other similarly unpublishable ones — skyrocketed to the top of the poll, and Mountain Dew quickly realized they had an embarrassing public relations problem on their hands.

But there have also been lighter naming contests that provide a bit of levity.

Likely most famous one is the case of a British scientific research vessel, which solicited suggestions from the public and ended up with ‘Boaty McBoatface’.

Another British naming contest in Doncaster for two gritters — essentially a winter service vehicle – ended up with Gritsy-Bitsy-Teeny-Weeny-Yellow-Antislip-Machiney and David Plowie

You can’t make this stuff up.

However, now that I’ve thoroughly buried the lede, lets get to the point.

During Monday’s city council meeting, the topic of the former Tembec lands came up.

The 100 acres of property, which was purchased by the city last year at a $3 million price tag, was formerly a mill operation for Tembec that shut down in 2010.

The land is owned by the city, but is being leased out in parcels to businesses that wish to set up shop in that area. It’s an initiative that has been regularly touted by local elected officials as a key part of the city’s economic development strategy.

Staff is getting the ball rolling on planning lot configuration and an internal road network for the property, which is intended to run a corridor from the northeast side of the railway tracks through to the southwest side of the city.

With that in mind, city officials are contemplating a naming contest for that area of the city, now that Tembec has divested it’s interests from the area.

After all, it can’t be referred to as the former Tembec lands forever, can it?

Or maybe it can — there is a celebrity precedent for that.

Instead of a name, the industrial area could just be branded by a logo, or a symbol and the city could call it ‘The Lands Formerly Owned By Tembec’

But I digress.

The contest was pitched during the council meeting, which is intended to solicit creative names that recognize the area’s Indigenous history and culture, the city’s history and heritage or celebrating the natural beauty of the region.

While it wasn’t clear how suggestions would be collected, either through email, social media or an online poll, city staff would whittle down the entries to the most suitable five suggestions and bring them forward for council consideration.

Sponsorship was also bandied around, as a councillor pondered if the area could bring in revenue, similar to the naming rights of Western Financial Place for the city’s recreation facility. The idea was that an anchor business or tenet might be interested in providing their brand for naming rights to the business district.

However, at the end of the discussion, the consensus in council chambers was that it’s still too early to come up with a name for that section of town until there is further development.

Till then, feel free to brainstorm those creative name suggestions and maybe the public will eventually get a chance to have their say on what to christen that section of of the city.

Just as long as it’s more creative than ‘The Lands Formerly Owned By Tembec’.

Trevor Crawley is a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Snowfall warning for Kootenay and Paulson passes

Up to 30 cm expected in mountain passes Saturday and Sunday.

Monkey Do’s Childcare talks expansion, government funding

The B.C. Government has been working to improve childcare in the province… Continue reading

Moose tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in northwest Montana

This is the first time the disease has been detected in the species in Montana

Max’s Place celebrates 25 years in business

On Friday, Nov. 15 Max’s Place, a beloved Cranbrook bakery and coffee… Continue reading

Family of man missing for three years issues plea for information

Daniel Curtis Ladd was last seen leaving his home in Cranbrook in August 2016

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s B.C. stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling across province from Dec. 11 to 17

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Most Read