After fielding a phone call today from a client who was particular for social ineptitude ( read: rude.) and who asked for a brand of electrical accessory with the name of “Nero” I wondered at the sort of commercial planning that would attach an infamous name to something that you really wanted to sell.
I am not talking about the linking of cheap knock off fashion to punk rockers or the deliberately offensive teenage tee shirt – no, this is putting a questionable nameplate on something you want real money for.
Now, the Wikipedia entry has an equivocal stance when it comes to Nero – but then it also has the same sort of faint praise for many other people currently taking asylum in foreign embassies. Who knows – it might be prepared to sell marshmallows at an auto da fé. Whatever, Mr. Emperor Nero does seem to have a few slight flaws like murdering people that would suggest that he is not exactly the best poster boy for a budding electrical firm – unless the electrical firm has its head stuck firmly up its Hunan Province, which I suspect it has.
Bemused by this, I set out to discover if any other infamous names are doing business now:
1. Hitler. Big in India as a name for some real people and has been featured as a shop name and product name on numerous occasions. Slightly controversial, but still makes it up there on the signboard for a clothing store, complete with the angled hakenkreuz in the circle. Nürnberg twinned with Mumbai? Not impossible…
2. Tojo. Clothing brand.
3. Hirohito. No, no results. He features as a late Emperor but not as a sales dummy.
4. Himmler. Nothing found.
5. Göring. Nope.
6. Stalin. Seems to have been commemorated with a Portuguese paint and some dodgy red wine.
7. Mao Tse Tung. A British firm made a beer called Mao Tze Drunk but it got pulled.
8. Mussolini. The Ssang Yong car company sold a number of lumbering 4WD cars here in Perth with ” Musso” and a rhinoceros emblem.
Of course depending upon your political bias you can generally find a brand of chocolate or hair oil or pressed seashell that bears the name of a current party leader – but these are just local annoyances. It will take some time before they can become internationally-reviled bywords for hideous behaviour. Still, they can aspire to greatness – Henry Ford managed to do it.