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The latest issue of the newspaper-industry trade journal Editor & Publisher has the usual mix of dire financial news and back-patting—in this case, area Eagles fan David Eldridge earning praise for the success of the Washington Times‘ Web site. It also includes an advertising insert from the International Trademark Association, which routinely chides journalists for using “Kleenex” instead of “facial tissue,” “Bake-Off” instead of “cooking contest,” “Realtor” instead of “real estate agent,” and “ChapStick” instead of “lip balm.” Chanel in particular isn’t fucking around. Its ad reads in part:
[E]ven if we are flattered by such tributes to our fame as ‘Chanel-issime, Chanel-ed, Chanels and Chanel-ized’, PLEASE DON’T. Our lawyers positively detest them.
The reasoning for this is simple enough, the advertorial copy explains—using a brand name incorrectly potentially weakens the value of the brand. The insert also gives some handy advice to copy editors: “Trademarks are adjectives. They are not nouns, and they are not verbs.” So I suppose I should apologize for the damage I’ve done to the good folks at Taser: I callously verbified its brand name in this Tom Perrotta critic’s pick. I trust, though, that I get a pass for invoking the weapon only metaphorically, and that, in my imagining, it worked safely, reliably, and efficiently—even if I was imagining an author not using it. The Taser ad in E&P makes some ridiculous demands, anyhow: the name “can only be used as an adjective in all capital letters followed by the ® to describe the TASER brand electronic control device.” I trust the folks at INTA, if not Taser, will spam me about this soon.