Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"Boaty McBoatface" is Going to Be a Huge Missed Opportunity

A mock-up of the future research vessel
I can understand the hesitation of British officials to go with the Internet and name their upcoming research vessel "Boaty McBoatface."

But I think they are missing a great opportunity.

This ship has already gotten far more exposure than they could have ever bought.

Sure, it's a little silly. But it's joyfully silly, not perjoratively silly.

Give it some "dignified" (quote-unquote) name -- say, the RSS David Attenborough -- and watch the boat's activites be overlooked and forgotten as it blends into the background of the world. But name it "Boaty McBoatface" and they'll get coverage from the newspaper of every city's port they pull in to.

People will recognize it for a long time. They'll remember the naming process and will be interested to see what the boat is up to when they encounter it again. Or they'll wonder why the boat has such an unusual name and read the article about it. In an often dreary world, they'll smile to themselves when the article concludes.

The captain will get interviews he wouldn't have otherwise received. The crew will smile for the cameras,  happy to be on a ship of note. Sailors will know about it the world over. Every journalist will click on the press releases with the name in the headline.

This name is a gift. I know the British, and especially its officials, have a reputation for being staid, but I hope they take the gift they have been given. I don't see it detracting from their mission at all.

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