A new year with a new president creates a great opportunity to attract new interest in old products through the low-cost marketing tool known as re-branding.
In the late ‘70s, a name change was all it took for the tasty (but disgusting-sounding) deep sea species formerly known as the slimehead to become one of the most-loved and expensive seafood entrees of all time, when it was renamed Orange Roughy.
In short order and with similar results, the lowly Patagonian toothfish was transformed into the high-end Chilean sea bass, and in a shout-out to Flipper-huggers worldwide, the dolphinfish got a name so nice we’ve been forced to say it twice — mahi mahi.
In a long-ago career as a sternman on a Maine lobster boat, I spent a portion of my workday carefully removing sharp-spined sea urchins that looked like a cross between a porcupine and a kiwi fruit from lobster traps and hurling them back in the ocean.
Back in the day, the creatures were known locally as whore’s eggs and considered a pest. Today, they are called uni and sold to sushi restaurants for $12 a pound, in the hazardous shell.
Meanwhile, back on terra firma, beef marketers have renamed the below-prime cut formerly known as the blade steak as the upscale-sounding flat-iron steak, accompanied by an equally elevated sticker price.
Rebranding to reflect social awareness has become a trend. In 2015, the Obama administration officially changed the name of Alaska’s highest peak from Mount McKinley to Denali, its Athabascan name. Two years later, President Trump offered to change it back, but had no official takers.
Among more recent changes of a similar nature, the Land O’ Lakes company removed its familiar image of an American Indian woman, as envisioned by a non-indigenous graphic artist, from its butter packaging, and the ice cream bars once known as Eskimo Pies have been renamed Edy’s Pies. It’s a change for the blander, but it’s probably better than Inuit Icicles.
So, as one president appears almost ready to exit the Oval Office while another prepares to move in, maybe some new nicknames are in order.
For the incoming president, I suggest Mojoe, which blends Biden’s first name with mojo, a magic charm — something he may need to see the nation through the problems ahead. If that doesn’t work, there’s always Joe Collagen.
For the outgoing president, I would have suggested Orange Roughy, but that name’s already taken. But I understand Orange Roughy’s previous name is still available.