A Note To NBC Universal and the SciFi Channel

What's in a name?

Plenty. A name can be an identity, a brand, a statement, a reputation...or a joke.  Or, in the case of the SciFi Channel's recent rebranding decision, a name can be a really vulgar term in another language, and a really bad idea to boot.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about this, of coure:

New York, NY - March 16, 2009 - Building upon sixteen years of water cooler programming and soaring ratings growth following its most-watched year ever, SCI FI Channel is evolving into Syfy on air and on-line beginning July 7th, it was announced today by Dave Howe, President, SCI FI.

By changing the name to Syfy, which remains phonetically identical, the new brand broadens perceptions and embraces a wider and more diverse range of imagination-based entertainment including fantasy, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure, as well as science fiction. It also positions the brand for future growth by creating an ownable trademark that can travel easily with consumers across new media and non-linear digital platforms, new international channels and extend into new business ventures.

Clearly, someone wants to position the SciFi Channel to be "all things imagination" -- particularly with their new brand message and tagline of "Imagine Greater."  Unfortunatley, their selection of a new term is identical to another term -- Polish slang for "crap, junk" ... and syphilis.



syf m.

  1. dirt, filth, grime
  2. (colloquial) pimple, spot
  3. (colloquial, vulgar) syphilis

Oy.  Seems to me that "SciFi" worked pretty well; perhaps if they really want to get "cute" they could go with "SciFan" or something else ... something less traumatic and absurdly, crueling amusing in another language.  They could also take on a few folks versed in other languages or run future new concepts past a roomful of people who speak a few foreign languages, to avoid such situations in the future.  As for now, I'm simply going to have to think that whoever first suggested -- and whoever first embraced -- this idea, and sold the network brass on the concept, are nothing more than a couple of gwova skapusti.1


Hat-tip Dupa and Becca for their respective heads-up and contributions.