40 Strangest Agency Names, and Where They Came From The stories behind the industry's most oddly named shops
http://www.omeletla.com Location: Los Angeles
Explanation: "We just wanted to find a name that would resonate with clients, press, friends, family, etc., that could mean something different and special to every person," CMO Ryan Fey told iMedia Connection. While sitting at a diner, one of the founders praised the omelet as "the king of breakfast," and the team obviously agreed.
http://bigkittylabs.com Location: Columbus, Ohio
Explanation: Founder Dan Rockwell sent us a lengthy summary of the name, which we've trimmed down a bit for you: "Well, the name is based off my wife's cat, who is named Otis, yet it's a girl, they thought it was a boy when they first got her. She's a beautiful cat, yet mean as hell. I had to pet her with an oven mitt for a year or so before she'd let me pet her any other way. As for why naming the biz after her, and why Big Kitty Labs? My first startup was all by the numbers, hard core let's do biz camp, and of course it was an epic fail. When I left that behind, I wanted to be much more rapid with my ideas and set the bar as low as a cat, who's mainly just curious enough to make something for the heck of it. I also wanted to create a brand that didn't take itself too seriously, and I wanted it to be iconic."
http://helloviking.com Location: Minneapolis
Explanation: Co-founder and CEO Tim Brunelle emailed AdFreak this summary of how the name came about: "The name Hello Viking came very, very quickly—we needed to put something on a bank form so we could complete incorporation and get paid for our first project. And like all important decisions, we procrastinated. Since Jennifer Iwanicki, Aubrey Anderson and I (the three founders of Hello Viking) are musicians, we approached naming our company like we were naming a new band. At one point, Aubrey and I were extolling our mutual Scandinavian heritage, using the word "Viking" as a verb, as in, "That is so Viking!" Then Jennifer said she really liked the word "hello" because it connoted conversation. We put those two words together—which triggered the rush to see if HelloViking.com was available (it was!) and that sealed it—the birth of our company's name."
http://www.highwidehandsome.com Location: Venice, Calif.
Explanation from the site: "The first known use of the phrase 'high, wide and handsome' appeared in the Bucks County Gazette, November 1881: 'Among the many improvements on Market Street, few are so conspicuous as the high, wide and handsome building on the corner of Eighth Street.' Since then, the expression has commonly been used in auto-racing circles to describe a particularly aggressive style of driving. (Little known fact: High, Wide and Handsome was the original title of the Will Ferrell movie Talladega Nights.) It's also the name of a 2009 Grammy-winning folk album by Loudon Wainwright III. To us, though, it's come to represent a resourceful, relentless and utterly comprehensive approach to accomplishing a task. As we like to say, 'Hold nothing back … go high, wide and handsome.' "
http://www.bfg9000ny.com Location: New York
Explanation from the site: "It's named after (founder) Gerry Graf's father and the BFG9000 gun from the video game Doom, in case you were wondering."
http://kidslovejetlag.com Location: Paris
Explanation: This new agency in the Fred & Farid Group is made up of about two dozen young social-media addicts with a relatively high level of influence per sites like Klout. The meaning of the name is obscure, but evokes youth, giddiness and international travel.
http://www.pockethercules.com Location: Minneapolis
Explanation from the site: "The term Pocket Hercules has been used throughout history to describe larger-than-life heroes in surprisingly small frames. Perhaps the most famous was Naim Suleymanoglu from Turkey, who has been hailed as the greatest weightlifter of all times. He stood just 4 feet 11 inches tall, yet he could lift nearly three times his body weight of 141 pounds. Being an award-winning ad agency in a world of giants, we're a lot like Mr. Suleymanaglu: small but powerful." (Oh, and check out their launch video.)
http://www.strawberryfrog.com Location: International, based in New York
Explanation: According to an article in India's Economic Times, agency founder Scott Goodson picked the name to be the antithesis of the agency "dinosaurs" on Madison Avenue: "Unlike the dinosaurs of old, the strawberry frog was incredibly effective. It could take you out if you licked it. It has a red body with blue legs—a radical with blue jeans."
http://www.72andsunny.com Location: Los Angeles and Amsterdam
Explanation: Agency president John Boiler emailed this perspective on the name to AdFreak: "We're serial optimists. So, the name has less to do with the awesome state of our climate [in L.A.] than it does about how we approach clients, problems and the world. We tend to see the opportunity in things. And we try to foster a culture for our clients and ourselves that is as open, healthy and happy as we can make it."
http://www.wexley.com Location: Seattle
Explanation: Was it named for a "fully integrated" nunnery that grew cantaloupes in Wexleyshire, England? Or maybe for the secret cheerleader burial ground on which its building was constructed? Sadly, neither, although Wexley School for Girls executives have offered those and countless other explanations for the name over the years. Now, for the first time, co-founder Ian Cohen reveals the truth to AdFreak: They picked a name from a phone book. The name was actually Wesley, but when one of the founders said it out loud, another misheard it as Wexley. Then, as a lark, they tacked on "School for Girls," and a legacy of oddness was born.
"It just came out accidentally, and it just sounded right and fun," Cohen says. "It had the energy we'd like to be around all day."
The name has been a mixed blessing for the shop. It can both fascinate and alienate potential clients. "We've talked about writing a book called Deflecting Business by the Billions with Your Name," Cohen says. "We're certain it turns off a lot of people in the business world." But it also helps the experimental agency find clients who are willing to take the inherent risks of being on the cutting edge. "When people are looking at four or five agencies, our name always sticks," Cohen says, "We always are told, 'I had to call you; I had to see what this was about.' "
Cohen's advice for those looking to name an agency? "Come up with something you truly love living with. I love this name. That's the thing about creating something that doesn't have a real meaning behind it. We keep exploring it and building our brand."
So, which names did we miss? Which are your favorites? Let us know in the comments.
Epilogue: Great but retired agency names
• Kowloon Wholesale Seafood Co. (now Secret Weapon Marketing)
• 86 the onions
• Mad Dogs & Englishmen
• WongDoody (now Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener, which is still pretty funny)
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- NSA Media Creates Alliance With Wishabi
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- JCPenney One of 10 Brands Predicted to Die in Next Year
- Rapture-Palooza Star Anna Kendrick Is Addicted to Reddit
- Atlanta's Most Infamous Stripper Pimps Charity Advertising Contest
- Microsoft Humiliates Siri in Biting Parody of Apple's iPad Ads
- Ad of the Day: Dodge
- What If Arrested Development Were Coming Back on YouTube?
- Introducing Beardvertising: Tiny Billboards That Clip on to Your Beard
- Tablets Overtake Smartphones as the Big Shopping Device
AdFreak is your daily blog of the best and worst of creativity in advertising, media, marketing and design. Follow us as we celebrate (and skewer) the latest, greatest, quirkiest and freakiest commercials, promos, trailers, posters, billboards, logos and package designs around. Edited by Adweek's Tim Nudd. Updated every weekday, with a weekly recap on Saturdays.