Thursday, March 1, 2012

Art meets commerce

In 1955, Ford Motor Company besought poet Marianne Moore's help in thinking up names for a new series of cars. (Sort of like "don't quit your day job" but in reverse!) The website Lists of Note reproduces their letter, from which comes this extract:
We should like this name to be more than a label. Specifically, we should like it to have a compelling quality in itself and by itself. To convey, through association or other conjuration, some visceral feeling of elegance, fleetness, advanced features and design. A name, in short, that flashes a dramatically desirable picture in people's minds.
I don't know which I love more, the beauty of an adman approaching a poet for marketing moxie or the fact that Moore came up with some terrific names—I'd sure as heck have taken an interest in the Hirundo, Aquila, Lavolta, and Thunder Crester! Other monikers are also attention-getting, although more than a tad wackadoodle (e.g., Intelligent Whale, Utopian Turtletop, Pastelogram, Varsity Stroke, Silver Sword, and Mongoose Civique). What's your favorite?


  1. Wow, gotta give Ford some props scooping up a Poet of all people to name some cars, and a women to boot.Furthermore, may I just say, Ford automobiles of the late 50's just looked like heaven, sleek pretty and durable.

  2. My two favorites-- the Mustang and the Thunderbird--were Ford names. I miss their flair nowadays..who thinks of Impresa or Elantra as anything but artificial and false?

  3. Getting a poet to name cars was very innovative!!! Nowadays we only have celebrities to help sell cars haha