Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The end of decorum (among other things)

As reported in Der Spiegel, two German entrepreneurs recently received permission from the EU trademark authority to register the name "F***ing Hell" (spelled out in full)  to be used for the marketing of a new brand of beer. They explained in their application that in parts of Germany and Austria "hell" refers to a variety of light ale; and the word that goes with it is, in fact, the name of a small town in Austria. In the informed opinion of the EU trademark, the phrase was "an interjection used to express a deprecation, but it does not indicate against whom the deprecation is directed. Nor can it be considered as reprehensible to use existing place names in a targeted manner (as a reference to the place), merely because this may have an ambiguous meaning in other languages." In reality, the meaning of the name of that Austrian town is not overly ambiguous in English; and the two German entrepreneurs plan to use the innovative brand name to market clothing and many other items; and the Austrian town doesn't have a brewery; and its uptight citizens and mayor are not too excited about the attention their native town is attracting; and... But why should some petty objections be allowed to stand in the away of such creative, cheerfully subversive entrepreneurship? I can't wait to see the billboards. Oh, and Germany has a couple of other towns whose names have richly evocative meaning, like Kissing, Petting, and Pissing. There must be some products or services out there that can be joyfully branded with them, too  to help foster the self-expression values celebrated by successive waves of the World Values Survey.