Saturday, April 14, 2007

What was BARNEY'S thinking?

Shame on Barney's marketing dept. I'll have to give my friend ANNE (who works at Barney's marketing department directly under Simon Doonan) a little talking to.

I received in the mail a couple of weeks ago, a promo catalog piece, announcing the opening of Barney's here in San Francisco (finally!).

But what did it say on the front of the envelope?

Good job Barney's.

Alienate the entire city you are opening up a store in, by calling it the dreaded "Frisco" name. You'd think just a little bit of research (like asking anyone who has ever lived in the city of San Francisco) about this nickname that all SF-ers hate would have been an obvious.

I actually learned that you weren't suppose to called San Francisco the "F" word not when I first moved here to SF - something you learn very fast when you move here. No, I had learned about "Frisco " back in grade school. From a children's book - the classic Encyclopedia Brown.

Our trusty protagonist Encyclopedia Brown was able to figure out that the criminal was lying about his alibi by one of the mistakes that he made. It was Encyclopedia Brown's theory that every criminal makes at least ONE mistake when he commits his crime. And Encyclopedia Brown was always there to catch that one mistake.

In this short story, the accused had previously claimed that he lived in San Francisco, and was flying back home, and thus could not have committed the crime. This flight was his alibi (I have since forgotten the actual crime) but he called his "supposed" hometown "Frisco" and Encyclopedia Brown knew that no person who actually lived in SF would refer to it as "Frisco."

See! Even Encyclopedia Brown, a fictional tween detective with above average intelligence knows to not call this city "Frisco."

I have to admit, though I read a lot of Encyclopedia Brown growing up, it was, as usual, the secondary, less popular "solve-it-yourself" mystery books that interested me. It was the knock-off imitation Einstein Anderson that I love to read. Einstein Anderson was an ersatz Encyclopedia Brown, down to the female best friend/foil Margaret (Encyclopedia Brown's best friend was Sally Kimball), and the school bully Pat (Encyclopedia Brown's bully was Bugs Meany). Yet somehow I was drawn to Einstein Anderson because he solved ALL his mysteries through SCIENCE FACTS.

I loved that. Looking back, the premise of Einstein Anderson is even more ridiculous than Encyclopedia Brown, but still, I have fond memories of Einstein Anderson. I wanted to grow up and solve all the crimes that I came across with obscure science facts.

Unfortunately I became a graphic designer. And as a designer I understand the appeal of using the phrase "HELLO FRISCO" with the overlapping "O" even though I hate Hate HATE stacking letters to form a word.

But what do I hate more?

The name "Frisco."

I bet you Einstein Anderson would never had call this fine city I live in FRISCO.



At 12:09 AM, Anonymous Karen said...

I've been trying to wean my older sister off of the word "Frisco", but she always forgets every time she talks about coming here to visit. I've pretty much stopped telling her since I feel like a broken record, but I wince inwardly every time she refers to SF as the dreaded F-word. Personally, I've always thought the word itself ("Frisco") is just silly-sounding and have never used that term, even before finding out that SF residents turn up their noses at those who do (justifiable, though).

And I loved Encyclopedia Brown when I was younger!!! Oddly, I've never heard of Einstein Anderson until now. I should go check one of the books out at the library...

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Felisa said...

Ha! "Frisco" is like nails on a chalkboard for me. It just pegs you as "not from here."

I love Encyclopedia Brown too. And like Karen, I have never heard of Einstein Anderson before you, Irvin. And now, I can't get the name "Pea Soup Anderson" out of my head.

At 1:48 AM, Blogger Rita said...

I remember that Encyclopedia Brown story! Actually, like you, I've forgotten the crime, but I remember that solution.


At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Z said...

When I first saw the "HELLO FRISCO" graphic, I couldn't figure out why they were equating HELL with FRISCO. That also seems like a marketing oversight. I also loved Encyclopedia Brown when I was a kid.


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