Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Rose by Any Other Name...Except Edsel

There was an interesting article in the Washington Post yesterday about the Edsel and why the car failed. Personally, I thought it looked pretty snazzy, but maybe that’s just because today’s cars are so uniformly dull. With the Edsel, though, the company manufactured so much hype that it seemed inevitable that no product could possibly live up to all that.

Ford’s director of planning, David Wallace, was so eager to find the “perfect” name for the new car that at one point he wrote to poet Marianne Moore and asked her to suggest names. Here’s what she came up with:

Intelligent Whale
Intelligent Bullet
Bullet Cloisonne
Ford Faberge
Mongoose Civique
Utopian Turtletop

None of those seemed to be quite right—!!—so after much more angst and consultation (at one point the list of possibilities included 18,000 options), Ernest Breech, Chairman of the Board, in an effort to suck up, said, “Why don’t we just call it Edsel?”, after the deceased son of Henry Ford, the founder of the company.

The public relations director sent a memo to the man in charge of the project: “We have just lost 200,000 sales.”

Not to put any pressure on anyone, but what’s your book title again? Better think long and hard!


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.