Dazed And Confused – How The World Underestimates The Intelligence Of Even Very Stupid People

 When I was a kid, one of my favourite cartoons was Top Cat.

When I got a little older, I realized that Top Cat was an animated rip-off of Sergeant Bilko. That was okay though. They were both great in their own way and it wasn’t like you could confuse the two. One was a colour cartoon from the early Sixties and the other was a black and white live action comedy from the 1950’s. Despite those facts, the television authorities in Britain were concerned that people might confuse one of them with a tin of pet food.

No, that’s not a typo. I haven’t got confused and lost my thread and you didn’t read it wrong. The show in question was Top Cat. Except, of course, that it wasn’t called Top Cat back in 1970s Britain. It was called Boss Cat. The continuity announcers introduced it as Boss Cat. There was a little slide that came up after the ad break with a picture of the main character on it, standing next to the words “Boss Cat”. It was called Boss Cat.

Just How Stupid Do They Think We Are? Oh, I See....

Just How Stupid Do They Think We Are? Oh, I See….

This happened because the top selling cat food back then was called “Top Cat” and its manufacturers lobbied the television people to change the title as they felt that the cartoon was encroaching on their brand identity.

It was all a bit pointless really. No one really noticed. They didn’t re-do the theme tune or dub over the dialogue. Officer Dibble didn’t say “BC” instead of “TC”. They just broadcast the cartoons as originally intended. Not to worry, though. This was all a long time ago, way back in the fucked up island in time that was the 1970s and that kind of thing has never happened since.

© Copyright Michael Gri…..

Actually, wait wait. No . It has happened again since. In 2002, WWF (World Wrestling Federation) changed its name to WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), primarily due to an unfavourable court ruling in a legal dispute with WWF (World Wildlife Fund) over the possession of the WWF intitialism.

As a Brit, this did confuse me because the World Wildlife Fund had already changed its name to The World Wide Fund For Nature. What was even more perplexing was that it kept the initials WWF rather than adopting WWFFN.  It didn’t change its name in the US and Canada though, just in the entire rest of the world. Hence the court battle with the wrestling people.

What bothers me about this why the name wasn’t changed in the US and Canada. Is it because it was considered that Americans and Canadians weren’t clever enough to distinguish between a conservation group with a giant panda as its symbol and a group of professional athletes who get together and pound the crap pot of each other in a Wrestling ring? And that it would therefore be easier and more productive to enter a protracted court battle with the wrestlers rather than just try to promote a new name?

After all, the conservationists in question felt that the rest of the world was smart enough to be able to cope with the fact that WWF now no longer stood for World Wildlife Fund or World Wrestling Federation but now meant World Wide Fund For Nature. This would appear a bit patronizing towards the Americans and the Canadians. Or unnecessarily flattering towards the rest of the world.

The people who make these kinds of decisions need to note one very important point. Yes, there are a lot of stupid people in the world, but very few of them indeed are that fucking stupid.

In Britain, we have two organizations with the initials AA. One is the Automobile Association. The other is Alcoholics Anonymous. One drives around the country in yellow vans and trucks trying to fix cars. The other meets up in draughty church halls trying to fix lives. We don’t get them confused with each other.

When a man refuses a drink because he is going to AA meetings, we do not assume that he repairs cars for a living and can’t drink because he has to drive his big yellow tow truck in the morning.

When a bedraggled man walks into a petrol station, his face smeared with grease and carrying a jerry can in his hand and asks the attendants if they have an AA leaflet, the attendants do not assume that he has hit rock bottom. They do not assume that he wishes to foreswear the demon drink because it is pretty obvious that he has broken down and needs automotive assistance.

His Close Friends Get To Call Him TC, Provided They're Fit Royalty

His Close Friends Get To Call Him TC, Provided They’re Fit Royalty

So, if you’re one of those people responsible for making these sorts of decisions, heed this advice. Relax, take a fresh look around you and watch an episode of Top Cat. Have a good laugh and then remember that if you treat people like idiots, sooner or later they’ll start behaving that way.

© Copyright Michael Grimes 2015


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About thedailygrime

At that awkward age - too young to be a grumpy old man, but just acerbic and downtrodden enough to have an opinion. Read it here.

2 responses to “Dazed And Confused – How The World Underestimates The Intelligence Of Even Very Stupid People”

  1. eden baylee says :

    Hi Mike!

    If we’d stop using acronyms for everything, that might help too, but you’re right.

    This is silliness taken to the extreme.

    Words are normally used in context. As with your AA example, there would be no confusion which AA was being referred to.

    I believe brand identity or brand confusion exists for the companies who are battling it, more so than in the minds of their consumers. It’s a pissing match to see who wins. In the meantime, they have money to throw away and keep their names in the media.

    The rest of the world doesn’t care, but maybe it’s cheap publicity for them.


    • thedailygrime says :

      Context. We’re not allowed to know about that, apparently. The world of the media treats us all like we are morons.
      One of my favourite Billy Connolly routines is from his video “Billy and Albert”. It’s about weathermen and their maps. This is the country where you live, and this is a wee cloud says Billy with fake pep and cheeriness.
      Then he gets very angry and says ” I know what a cloud looks like. Just fucking tell me. I’ll understand!”
      Marketing is a very fragile profession which relies on people not understanding how laughably easy it is. A Shavian paradox I believe they call it.
      Thanks for reading and commenting

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