What’s in a name?

Published 12:26 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2017

As I learned last week of “119,” the restaurant that Bill McKay and Maureen Walls-McKay are getting ready to open at 119A N. Main St., the unusual name reminded me of an article I once read years ago about a trend of increasing boldness in movie advertising.

One of the specific examples cited was “Men in Black II,” which came out in 2002. Because of the worldwide success of the 1997 release, “Men in Black,” filmmakers and producers had established a highly-recognizable brand, and marketers for the sequel took progressively greater and greater advantage of that fact.

Playing off the abbreviation used to promote the first film, “MIB,” marketers liberally used the designation “MIIB” for the sequel. On some posters, they actually began using it without accompaniment by the actual title of the movie but rather the tagline “Back in Black.” Next, another poster prominently featuring an in-character Will Smith even dropped the tagline and minimized the “MIIB” abbreviation to the corner with the film’s release date, July 3. Finally, posters were released that included no title — abbreviated or otherwise — and simply featured the image of Smith accompanied by “July 3.”

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As I read this article, I was struck by how bold this marketing really was now that it was being pointed out to me, but I was also reminded how I had seen these posters and didn’t register that they they were bold because the brand was so recognizable.

The new restaurant “119” may have a name that doesn’t seem tied to food at all, but it is tied to the recognizable brand established by Bill McKay. As Herald staff reporter Emily Hollingsworth noted in her story, he has 20 years of experience in the restaurant business.

Naturally, Bill and Maureen will need to work hard to make “119” strongly synonymous with a great dining experience, but history has shown that often once you establish a brand, the rest is history.

Titus Mohler is sports editor of The Farmville Herald. His email address is Titus.Mohler@FarmvilleHerald.com.FarmvilleHerald.com.