Monday, May 23, 2022

The power of the brand: Do you say ‘Cokes’ when you mean drinks?

Early this week, I stood at a counter in a restaurant buying a juice and a can of coke.

After paying, the cashier walked over to the refrigerator and took out the juice; she looked back at me and asked, “Which Coke?”

She immediately got me thinking out loud, what did she mean which Coke? To giggles from two ladies who were in line behind me.

I caught myself and thought again of the Coke light, Zero and just as I was going to say the ‘original one’, I looked up and saw that the fridge only had three Cokes and other soft drinks.
I then relaxed and said again,” I want coke.”

As I walked away, I thought of my days as a child when I also called any drink coke. It was when I grew up that I graduated and left the younger kids to call it like I did.

My younger sisters still says, “I want coke”, bring them even juice and to them they still got their coke.

Of course, the Coca Cola Company is pleased at the way the product has grown to be a brand name or trademark, a generic trademark to be precise. Yes, what I am saying is calling any other drink as coke is not a kid thing. It happens to the best of us and at most there is no need to be embarrassed if or when you do.

It is a funny situation that we are caught calling stuff by their brand names. Of course, some day your nose turns pink when you just did or when you later think of it.

Should it really embarrass you that you always do or do you feel consoled when you are in a supermarket and you hear someone referring to a certain product by its brand.

It is more than a trend in many countries, though people laugh about it and think of it as stupid. I tend to believe it is not, it was actually strategized by advertisers.

Imagine if the shop attendant was rude at the restaurant, and I was actually not looking to buy a coke but another drink. She would have given me the coke and given me that look that said “Get the hell away from my counter.” And that would be, another coke sold, statistics to the Coca Cola Company.
It is amazing how also the name calling differs from country to country. This is due to popularity per country or region.

Some call it Omo while others say Surf. All meaning washing powder but, of course, calling it the way they got used to it.

I remember a little game we used to play as kids. The game was painful in the sense that it was sort of a competition after lunch to see who ate (what we referred to as) the best meal. The well off children would eat ‘chicken licken’ with rice. Of course, they did not have ‘chicken licken’, they had chicken but according to us chicken licken was, well, chicken or chicken was ‘chicken licken’.

That is how we all were like as kids, but we still grow up to call products by their brand names.

Like Colgate, referring to toothpaste. I swear, you even call toothpaste Colgate. Admit it. Or how the stock cubes used for cooking are always referred to as Knorrox.

The funniest, (this I admit is a little odd) is how people referred to the packaged soups as Minestrone. And Minestrone is a soup product under the Knorr range!

A lot of people seem to have loved the Minestrone more than the other products to a point it became a popular name for the packaged soups.

It hurt so much when you would be sent to the tuck shop only to find Minestrone at the soup counter. My family did not really like Minestrone, I know we preferred the Chilli beef but never found it at any of the tuck shops.
Vaseline. And all of us know what it is. It is Vaseline. Well ladies and gentlemen, Vaseline is a brand of petroleum jelly based products owned by Anglo-Dutch company-Unilever. Though that bottle you carry around in your bag is Vaseline, it really is petroleum jelly, and, of course, you notice the Johnson & Johnson writing on it.

As a teenager, I got to know ‘things’ known as Lil-lets. These things were used by girls my age during their periods. We were advised against using them, because unlike pads you had to put them inside you. I think the only tampons we were first exposed to here were the Lil-lets, and of course tampons were called lil-lets.

I could go on with the examples, just to make you laugh, like cobra, for floor polish, Rama for bread spread, checkers for a plastic bag (and this one is the winner). And I wish I knew why it came to be called that. And it wins solely because of the mystery that surrounds it. Over ten people I asked why it was called so threw the question back at me.

I know for sure that the companies that produce the products which we falsely refer to as other products would really be annoyed with us if they heard us.
They would have to kill all of us to put an end to it.


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