What’s in a Name?

30 Aug What’s in a Name?

ave you seen that Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow? No? That’s alright, no one else did either.

When the movie came out earlier this year, Warner Brothers had high hopes for a big box office success. Instead they ended up with an unfortunate flop. Despite a production budget of $179 million, Edge of Tomorrow only brought in $99 million in domestic box office sales. Though the movie did better internationally, it still didn’t come close to reaching projected goals.

You may be wondering what the problem was with the movie – especially given its A-list cast and top notch special effects. According to Warner Brothers, it was all in the marketing and generic nondescript name. Perhaps that’s why the company made the decision to change the name of the movie not once, but twice. That’s right, this movie has had 3 titles.

The first name originated from the Japanese novel that served as the inspiration for the film. That title, “All You Need is Kill,” was changed to “Edge of Tomorrow” prior to the premier.

On October 7th, the movie will be released on DVD and Blue Ray as “Live. Die. Repeat.” which, other than being a bit more memorable, has the added benefit of being relevant to the plot.

(unfortunately tis cover looks like it’s for a movie starting Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, and their co-stari “EdgeOfTomorrow”)

So here’s the question: can a name change save the movie? History shows that rebranding strategies could go either way.

Before Old Spice went through the rebranding process, the company had nothing that really excited customers. Their product was seen as old, tired, and boring. After committing to a rebranding campaign that kicked off with former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa shirtless on a horse, things turned around. The following 186 related commercials revived the 70-year-old brand, giving customers something to get excited about again. They didn’t change their logo, they didn’t change their product, but by encouraging engagement and excitement for Old Spice, they changed the experience and “boring” stigma associated it.

In 2012, JC Penny also attempted a rebranding strategy, their 3rd rebrand attempt in 3 years – which led to unfortunate results. The company introduced “fair and square pricing,” a new no-frills system attempting to rid customers of promotions and sales, replacing them with “every day prices.” The new method also included “best prices” on the first and third Friday of every month. Needless to say, shoppers weren’t impressed with “best prices.” Instead they found it hard to understand, difficult to compare, and a lower value resulting in a 20% loss for JC Penny that quarter.

So, what’s the difference between Old Spice and JC Penny? Old Spice changed not only their brand, but went all in on a total brand re-vamp strategy that their target audience would understand and enjoy. Without positive, substantive change, it’s far more likely that a rebranding strategy will have little to no impact on a promotion. It may even cause some backlash, as it already has on the blogosphere.

Granted, these examples come from retail markets so the results could end up completely different. I’ll be interested to follow up on the progress of  “Live. Die. Repeat.” to see how sales go with the new name.

Sally McHugh
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