What’s in a name?

Cold HamBack in the day (as one of my favourite reality TV characters is wont to say) I spent a few years working for an advertising agency.

It was a time when just about every agency seemed to have its genesis in a long and liquid lunch.  One minute Mike Pickles, David Ham, and Peter Cold were ordering their fourth bottle of Penfolds Bin Something-or-Other; the next Cold, Ham & Pickles (Advertising) Limited was making a play for a serious chunk of Nestlé’s advertising budget.

Of course, what had seemed to be such a good idea over a glass or two of Shiraz didn’t always turn out to be such a good idea in real life.  Within a year or so, one of the original chums had usually folded his tent and gone off to join the alphabet soup in the building across the street.  For a while, Cold, Ham & Pickles would probably box on as Cold, Ham & Pickles – only without Mr Ham.  But then, once the stock of printed stationery was down to a manageable level, they would probably ‘rebrand’ as Cold Pickles.  Keep it simple.

This would be good news for Mike Pickles.  His name would have been on the letterhead from the start.  But people probably referred to the agency simply as Cold Ham.  (Advertising and marketing people are like that.)  Now, with Dave Ham a part of Dinster, Denster, Dumpster & Ham, Mr Pickles’ visibility would suddenly be more … well … visible.

But another out-of-control lunch was never far away.  And, after another four or five bottles of Bin Whatever, it would probably seem like a good idea to merge with the up-and-coming creative team of George Radish and Simon Mustard to form Cold Pickles Radish & Mustard.

And maybe, for a while, the new set up would go from strength to strength, winning some important new business pitches, and picking up creative awards left, right, and centre.  CPRM (as it probably became known) may even have been nominated for Ad Agency of the Year.

But nothing lasts for ever.  Over yet another long lunch, the creative genius that was Simon Mustard would probably announce that he was moving to New York.  Or Prague.  Or maybe Kathmandu.

Without the magical touch of Simon, CPR (no M) could never be what it had once been.  With a steady drift of star clients to pastures more creative, the future for CPR (no M) would begin to look decidedly less rosy.  The options would seem few and far between.

Over several bottles of Penfolds Bin I-Can’t-Remember, the remaining partners, Pete, Mike, and George, would probably think that it made good sense to merge with Noteworthy Overend & Willis.  While Pete phoned Andrew Noteworthy to sound him out on the idea, George probably even sketched a logo for CPR:NOW on the back of the wine list.

Sadly, by then it was usually too late.  The patient was already as good as dead.

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