Can we stop trying to rename towns?

DishIt’s been five years since Halfway, Ore., in a desperate attempt to lure tourists, submitted to an Internet company’s publicity stunt and agreed to be renamed Half.com. In the year following, Half.com celebrated by officially becoming the poorest town in Oregon and opening its first funeral home. Despite that cautionary tale, marketers keep making the same mistake. In 2002, Jeff Manning, the milk-board guy, thought it would be cool if Biggs, Calif., would agree to become Got Milk?, Calif. He was chased out of town by a frightened city council and baffled residents (asked one: “Does this mean [the high-school teams] will become the Milk Cows and the cheerleaders will wear udders on their heads?”). Now, Dish Network is offering free satellite-TV service for 10 years to all residents of any town willing to change its name to Dish. Which sounds all playful and fun—until some town actually tries to take them up on the offer. Then it’s not so fun—particularly the part where half the town ends up hating the idea, and hating the company too. Proposals are due Nov. 1.

—Posted by Tim Nudd