“Mack Trucks!! It’s part of the language!” is an old advertising campaign for one of the best known hauling vehicles in the world. The name Mack is often used as an adjective or noun for quality, toughness, and large size. Many hangover victims are remorsefully familiar with the saying, “I feel like I was hit by a Mack Truck!” Sports commentators know that when a football team’s offensive line is blocking well, they open up holes that “you can drive a Mack through!” Makes me wonder what defensive line can ever stop a Mack Truck no matter how poor the blocking, but the message is clear . . . if you want to insinuate big, tough and relentlessly damaging, you use the words, “Mack Truck!”
Major brand names became part of the language over the years for many simple products. Everyone’s used a Dixie Cup without thinking it’s actually a paper cup. Who takes an insulated vacuum bottle to a picnic? No one! Everyone grabs the Thermos, of course! And although some folks reach for a tissue before they sneeze, many older Americans still pluck a Kleenex out of the box no matter whose name’s on it. Once in forty years, someone asked me for cellophane tape. Fortunately, there was a roll of Scotch tape right next to it. Somehow, I think Scotch tape is a little better. Medical manufacturer, Johnson and Johnson, knows these all-purpose words cut deep. If you cut yourself, you reach for a Band-Aid. What scares Johnson and Johnson is that the Band-Aid you reach for may not be an actual Band-Aid, but a generic band-aid. The earmarks of their new advertising campaign clearly addresses this with the words, “Band-Aid brand.” Plain old “band-aids” are not good for the “Band-Aid” brand bottom line.
All product success stories suffer from this side-effect of good fortune and fame, losing precious revenue from the generic competition. At home, you can Crock Pot dinner from a Xeroxed copy of a recipe and slip into the Jacuzzi while the meal simmers. After dinner, you can place the leftovers in Tupperware or seal them with Saran Wrap.
Growing up in construction, I always used a Skilsaw, the common moniker for any hand-held, electric circular saw. If I needed an electric reciprocating saw, like thousands of other tradesmen, I pulled the Sawzall from the truck. Whether it be in the office, out on a construction site, or at home, we all use products that we call by brand name, no matter who makes them. Some brand name trends, like the Yo-yo, may go up or down, but mostly, like the lowly Zipper, these names stick.
And if you don’t believe me, just Google it!