Bad Taste = Bad Branding

[Cache – #103]

This ain’t no SlutWalk – the protest movement started at York University in response to a police officer’s remark that women shouldn’t dress like “sluts” if they didn’t want to be raped.  SlutWalk quickly went global, with marches taking place in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.  Much like the gay community commandeered use of the word “queer” to rob the haters of a key weapon, “SlutWalk” took ownership of a deeply derogatory term in order to make an important point (namely that women shouldn’t have to worry about being attacked because of their clothes).

No, this is Gourmet Bitches, the food truck launched by two Toronto women who say they want to take ownership of the word “bitch” and change its meaning.

From an interview by Toronto Food Trucks:

Q:  “Are you worried that the name might be a bit too risqué for some people?”

A:  “As far as the name goes, we are redefining the word ‘bitch’, we say a bitch is a strong fiery women [sic] who gets things done!  She doesn’t mince words and she speaks her mind.  She has the courage to start something new and the strength to sustain it.”

“We live with a certain confidence and it shows in our food and our name!!!! But yes we see that some people may doubt the choice and want to remind everyone it is not intended to offend and we hope people can see that and have fun redefining the word with us :-)”

As the dear reader knows, a brand is what people think of you.  And these businesswomen want to be thought of as bitches.  In contrast to SlutWalk, it doesn’t appear as if the Bitches are fighting some injustice or inequality.  At the end of the day, it’s about a food truck selling sweet potato fries and pulled pork tacos.

The Bitches market themselves to “weddings, corporate events, anniversaries or galas.”  Well, I can assure you of one thing:  my mother is not about to hire a company called Gourmet Bitches to cater her 31st anniversary.  And while many young women today do in fact call each other “bitches” as a friendly jab, these women are too young to be in the Bitches’ target market.  Maybe I can imagine a few women in their 30s and 40s contracting the Bitches for one kind of event or another, but for their wedding?  Somehow the word “bitch” seems out of place on a wedding day.

And I can think of no sizeable, serious, blue-chip or publicly-reporting company that would want to tell their clients the food they’re eating was made by a couple of Bitches, or want their accounting department typing the words “Gourmet Bitches” on cheques.

Bad words are not always bad in branding.  It depends on the target market.  But in this case, with the target market the Bitches are pursuing, the bottom line is that using offensive language in your name is brutally bad branding.  If not completely tasteless.


In case you missed it:  My BNN interview re. Lance Armstrong’s brand (starts at the 3:30 mark, after the ad).

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