Insiders in the advertising industry are becoming concerned over what they claim is the very real possibility that, due to the increasing popularity of re-branding, mergers, splits and the shortening lifetime of companies, together with the sheer number of new products launched every year, the industry faces the bleak prospect of running out of new brand names.
An advertising executive, who didn't want to be named, said:
'It's our industry’s dirty secret, the Wolf At The Door, the Mad Woman In The Attic. Nobody wants to talk about it because its effects on civilisation as we know it will be catastrophic.
'If you think about it, the English language only has a finite amount of meaningful words, and we have been exploiting them as brand names for at least 80 years. All the words which convey something meaningful, along with most of the place-names, have been used up. You can already see the signs, with companies who wish to re-brand having to resort to 3-letter acronyms or meaningless quasi-Latin-sounding names. The same is true for all other languages, in fact most have fewer words than English.
'The signs that something is amiss are already there to see. You don't think any sensible CEO would choose to call their company Centrica, Avensis or Consignia do you? Or lumber them with some forgettable 3-letter acronym like, ooh I can't remember any but you know what I mean.’
Advertising agencies and management consultants are now hiring top lexicographers in an attempt to predict how long the industry can continue mining the English language. Predictions range from 5 years to just over a decade.
But one sceptic announced 'This is all bunk. Sure, we'll run out of meaningful words but so what? There are 17,576 three-letter acronyms out there, and if all else fails we'll simply do what Mercedes do now, and use numbers. OK so they don't have any character, but neither do today’s brand-names or products, and it doesn't seem to affect sales’