A NAME FIT FOR A BOAT? #BoatyMcBoatface

It seemed like such a lovely idea; inviting the public to submit and vote on the name for a £200m ship, but is it one that perhaps, The Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) is now regretting?

Looking for a name to reflect the ship’s prowess in the oceans; it is due to set sail the waters of Antarctica and the Artic carrying a team of 90 scientists and staff, the NERC invited the internet to submit their favourite names for the vessel.

While it’s certainly bought a smile to the nation, we’re not sure Boaty McBoatface quite fits the Council’s criteria of “an inspirational name that exemplifies the work it will do” as hoped.

Is this a lesson for public relations and marketing professionals? I mean, it isn’t the first time a marketer has given the public control and regretted it…

There was the time Kirkleatham Owl Centre in Cleveland, UK decided to let those who adopted a bird to choose said bird’s name. And thus, Hooty McOwlface was born.

Or the time Coca-Cola asked consumers to get involved with the ‘Taste the Feeling’ strapline by allowing users to add their own text on top of the brand’s Gif creatives…

There is no doubt that there is a lot of value in curating digital pr and marketing campaigns that interact with and engage the public. But is there an extent to which the reigns should be loosened? Perhaps, the NERC would have been better off asking the public to choose from a list of pre-approved names that do reflect the spectacular work of the vessel and the team on-board?

That being said by no means is the campaign a disaster. It has after all got the whole nation talking about the #NameOurShip campaign. We will have to hold tight until April 16th when the fate of the ship’s name will be revealed…

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