In 1955, Robert B. Young, of Ford Motor Company’s marketing research department, sent a letter to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Modernist poet Marianne Moore. “[W]e find ourselves,” Young wrote, “with a problem which, strangely enough, is more in the field of words than in car-making.…Our dilemma is a name for a rather important new series of cars.”
Given that Ms. Moore’s oeuvre is characterized by “linguistic precision, keen and probing descriptions, and acute observations of people, places, animals, and art,” what could possibly go wrong?
Moore agreed to help out, and, over the next several weeks, sent 43 suggestions to Young (or hundreds over the course of an entire year, depending on the source). My favorite? Honestly, it’s a toss-up between “The Intelligent Whale” and “Utopian Turtletop.” Not surprisingly, Ford went in a different direction, ultimately deciding on “Edsel.”
Let this be a lesson to you, folks: Naming things is hard.