August 29, 2006

Asypta: Altria is a Smoking Gun

The Asypta model is somewhat flexible. If you look at Altria, you have a slight variation - extending to A consonant, vowel, A, but the phonetics of the word are the same, as the "ria" sounds like "riya", which maintains the Asypta rule verbatim.

With that said, Philip Morris' choice to rebrand as Altria in January 2003 is a classic example of selecting a name without any meaning and plugging into what I term the Asypta name generator. As widely reported, the company, which owns a wide variety of cigarette brands, ranging from Marlboro to Benson & Hedges and Virginia Slims, was looking to divorce itself from its life-long relationship with tobacco, and instead, highlight a healthier, more anomalous self.

From the press release on January 27, 2003, the company opted to change its name to Altria Group, Inc. As they said in the release, "The Altria name and logo powerfully express these enduring qualities: its drive toward excellence, its companies' focus on building brands, its passion for success, its openness to innovation, its commitment to its communities and societies, and its focus on its people."

And just how do they do that? If you look at the Altria logo, It's a 5 by 5 pixelated square made of many colors. A 25-grid square, symbolizing nothing. The word Altria doesn't demonstrate quality or excellence or success or innovation, unless you believe it does. Just like when the tobacco companies had you believe that "Nicotine is not addictive", this too has to be taken at face value, when there is in fact, no value.

More about Altria can be found on the company's "Who We Are" page, where they say "By changing its name, Altria Group has clarified its identity as what it is: a parent company to both tobacco and food companies that manage some of the world’s most successful brands." Gotcha.

For fitting the criteria set out in the rules of Asypta, and further befuddling corporate identity, we give Altria a near-perfect score. They just miss the hall of fame, due to a lacking consonant before the second A. Sorry, guys.

Overall Asypta-Meter Score: 9.5

Listening to ''Silent Words - Chiller Twists'', by Jan Johnston (Play Count: 25)

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