Buried in the news about the Stimulus, private military security firm Blackwater Worldwide announced it was re-branding and changing its name to XE (Zee). Xe President Gary Jackson in a memo to employees said, “the new name reflects the change in company focus away from the business of providing private security.” Spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell added “the company felt ‘Blackwater’ was too closely tied to its security work in Iraq.”
Rat is a very hurtful name. I’m so glad we, as a society, are owning up to centuries of hatred and disrespect. Great Pointed Archers deserve more. – Craig Allen, Cosmetologist
We went looking for the best examples to help Blackwater/XE in their re-brand. It did not take long for the similarly bold effort at GreatPointedArcher.com to hit our radar screen. They have sought (until now, unsuccessfully, but yesterday’s news breathed much needed hope into their effort)) to rebrand the common sewer rat as… The Great Pointed Archer.
I used to yell, “Wow, look at that huge ugly rat.” Then I realised that was insensitive now I yell, “Look at that huge ugly great pointed archer” and feel much better. – Ashley Davis, Personal Shopper
We can all learn from their failures so, as a public service to Blackwater, sorry Xe, (this may take awhile), UK Progressive hopes we can help them avoid some of the pitfalls a difficult re-brand can bring, and share the already difficult experience of The Great Pointed Archers, especially since a new image launched on a “Take out the Trash” Friday, is all about SPIN baby!
We live in a time of acceptance. So why do we still call them rats? – Traci Bass, Financial Planner
It’s a good move. Who’d want to keep a name associated with lawlessness, mayhem, and alleged murder? They definitely need a kinder, gentler corporate image, maybe they can help Halliburton and KBR with their image remake? Especially after winning yet another huge electrical and plumbing contract just last week in Iraq. The mystical and mythical sounding Xe should do the trick. Also, as a bonus, this should help them get contracts in China. Very shrewd move.
Slap on a furry tail and you’ve got a squirrel. And everyone likes squirrels. – Dan Lucy, Hair Stylist
They are not the first company to attempt a difficult PR image remake by changing stationery. Abbey National here in the UK spent £11 million pounds ($14 million dollars) last year to stem the tide of the mortgage crisis by changing to… (drum roll puhleeeze, soud of trumpet fanfare!) Abbey.
OK, maybe not the best example as the cost of the program led to bigger losses and did nothing to help people forget who they were.
I never liked rats but now that they are called great pointed archers, they’re not so bad. – Kim Tucker, Broker
Siberia Airlines though was much more ingenious. They had a problem. Their name alone made sure you envisioned a frozen -50 degree wasteland. Not so good for tourism. So in 2005 they appointed the globally recognised advertising and re-branding agency The Bank. The Russian airline changed its name to S7 and introduced a green and red livery and visual identity.
There wouldn’t be so many in the subway tunnels if we let them ride the trains. –Jonathan Marshall, Actor
This rebrand successfully lured travellers to a frigid death thinking they were now headed to a tropical rain forest. Unsuspecting passengers wearing only shorts and desert camouflage t-shirts were frozen solid on the tarmac, unable to make it the 200 yards to the terminal building. (Note: to Xe, no showers needed here!)
Sure some great pointed archers are rats but aren’t there bad apples in every group? – Jackson Willaby, clerk
After my extended visit to the Great Pointed Archer website, I could not understand how this vital re-brand failed? Here on the farm this morning I said to my wife, “look, is that a great pointed archer the feline disposal unit has tucked in her jaws of death” as she tossed it about like a dead rag-doll plaything? That clearly already sounded much more PC and acceptable. I honestly think Xe has a chance to succeed here, I almost forgot their entire legacy of greed, sloth and death in that moment.
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck… it’s Xe, the great pointed archer!
(All quotes lifted directly from the website www.greatpointedarcher.com please visit their brilliant website.)
Denis Campbell is a US journalist based in the United Kingdom. He contributes to newspapers and magazines, is a BBC Radio election commentator and publishes the daily e-magazine The Vadimus Post from the Latin Quo Vadimus – where are we headed and do we know why?