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— What’s in a name? I’m sure you know your name, but outside of your family and immediate friends and/or co-workers, who else knows it? It might not be important to you if you don’t have a broad scope of name recognition, but if you stop for a minute and think about the importance of name recognition in our society, the depth of it might astound you.

The promotion of anything is made easier if it can be connected to a recognizable name. Wrangler jeans, popular enough in their own right, further promotes their product by having All-Pro quarterback Brett Favre appear in their television ads. Does this sell more blue jeans?

I don’t have the answer to that question and don’t even own Wrangler jeans, but Brett Favre’s sturdy football image and toughness makes me believe the Wrangler jeans carry the same traits. That might not be true except in my mind, but if they are good enough for Brett Favre, they should be good enough for me. Did you buy Wranglers because Brett wears them?

If someone throws out the name Kennedy in any conversation, my mind immediately turns to the family which has dominated Massachusetts politics throughout my life-time. With a long history of national political connections and service, from the House and Senate to the presidential office, the name Kennedy almost guarantees a win in any political race in Massachusetts. We might have differing views on their contributions to society, but the sheer power of the name has proven effective in political circles in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and nationally for decades. How much of the effect has been a result of the media’s input depends on how you view history, but if you remember, after President Kennedy was assassinated, streets, buildings, airports and government facilities names were quickly changed to honor the “late president.”

In today’s culture, name recognition is absolutely required in the fields of entertainment. Where would pop music be without the King of Pop, Michael Jackson? An event - Woodstock - has become associated with large gatherings of music fans and you can tie the name Bruce Springsteen to an event or a song and guarantee a sellout.

Fans of movie idols hang on every picture of their favorite star taken by some photographer who makes his or her living following their every move. New moviesare frequently sold out on the basis of the leading actor/actress regardless of the real value or quality of the movie. And, the financing of any entertainment event is more easily obtained if it has a “name” star.

Television is going through a period of change, apparently trying to increase ratings. Even the Weather Channel seems to be promoting the people who give the report on the weather at the expense of the weather conditions. A new person has been added for the early morning portion of the programming and they are using familiar faces to announce they “wake up with Al.” Late night television ratings are so important that one late night “name” has been moved to prime time to shore up the ratings on that network. Will it work?

Depends on you and me as viewers and probably a function of whether you watched him late night or viewed another channel - or, horror of horrors, turned off the television set and went to bed. It seems television will do almost anything to push up the ratings or increase viewership. From “Mad Men” to high school football, you can find it on some network - and new channels are being added as soon as they find a potential market and can find writers creative enough to attract an audience. David Letterman increased his ratingsby sharing his extra-marital affairs with his fans. What else can we expect?

Name recognition is so important that the president of the United States (a Democrat) went on national television to announce that a Republican voted “for” the Healthcare Reform package being proposed by Senator Baucus. It was important that it be bi-partisan so a Republican vote was needed - just one was adequate anyone would do.

Being a “name” athlete can help you in contract negotiations with the club ownership because “names” draw bigger crowds. Ask the Minnesota Vikings football team if you think I’m out in left field.

Ticket sales shot up immediately when they signed quarterback (and Wrangler wearer) Brett Favre. If you want to sell a new line of clothing or a new cosmetic item, it needs to be a name person who promotes it.

This seems to be part of our culture. It may be getting more prevalent or maybe I just have more time to see it. Whatever the reason, it is foreign to me. We were brought up in a home where we were taught to “worship no man only GOD.”

Which brings me to the point that if as much emphasis was placed on the principles of Christianity and name of Jesus Christ as these other names, we might have a better world in which to live.

Opinion, Pages 4 on 10/21/2009

Print Headline: Lynch Pen: Value of a name can make a difference

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