Friday, October 9, 2009

Le Whiff, or The Whiff of Luxury

Some clever folks at Harvard, of all places, came up with an inhalable chocolate product and lipstick-sized delivery system and they called it Le Whif. The idea grabbed the attention of the media, which gave the product global free publicity. The problem was, the inventors/marketers gave the product a dumb name, and opened the door to unlimited and perfectly legal domain name opportunities.

Why did they name it Le Whif?

If they were going after a primarily American or English-speaking audience, they should have spelled it right - Le Whiff (as in The majority of media stories on the device spelled it with 2 f's. Second, why use the word whif or whiff anyway? In the U.S., a whiff of something is generally bad, odorous, off-putting. In baseball, a whiff is an embarrassing miss. These are negatives - not the sort of association you want for a consumable. Strange.

Maybe they had to misspell whiff because the word is in such wide use that they couldn't claim trademark rights to Le Whiff (with 2 f's). If you Google Le Whiff, you'll find wide use of that phrase, with many negative connotations, including one site using it to describe awful smells in France, with a photo of stinky cheese. Whiff alone returns 2.3 million links at Google. 

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