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Phil Harvey

5:45 PM -- Get on the stick. The VoiceStick.

From The Philter's Bad Names, Bad Contests, Bad Companies file, I've plucked this email pitch for a contest that offers a prize for branding a bum steer:

As you know, many consumers are hearing about VOIP but they aren't sure how it works or are hesitant to sign up for "another service." i2Telecom International Inc. (OTC: ITUI) is getting them involved and allowing them to try their service for free and also possibly win $5,000 in cash if they come up with a new name for their VoiceStick technology. Many people are not aware that calls between VoiceStick users are free to and from anywhere in the world.

To recap, folks who aren't sure how VOIP works. But these unsteady eddies may be enticed into signing up for something called VoiceStick, if only they could give it a different name?

Sorry if I seem dense (or even thick-middled), but in what other business does this tactic work?

I'll suppress my curiosity long enough to keep reading:

"We are on the verge of acquiring large distribution surrounding the Voicestick service, and we want to ensure that the service, which is so unique and user-friendly, has broad user acceptance and a name which will drive recognition of its benefits," stated Paul Arena, Chief Executive Officer of i2Telecom International, Inc.

Oh, well, now that's just confusing. The PR guy calls it VoiceStick. The CEO calls it Voicestick. Which one are we renaming? Actually, it doesn't matter. The point is to find a name that is (1) broadly accepted and (2) able to drive recognition of the service's benefits.

So you can't call it "FreeVoice" because that would be a lie. And "TalkShaft" is too similar to the old name. But "Call Repeatedly and Profit", CRaP for short, is at least within a mile of the mark. A service called "Say HI To People And Never Talk Sparingly" probably won't make it past the censors.

More from the press release:

The winner will be chosen by i2Telecom on June 19, 2006. The grand prize winner will receive an unlimited lifetime global calling plan and $5,000 in cash. 100 runner-ups will receive a year's membership for unlimited global calling from i2Telecom. Only three entries are allowed per person, and anyone who enters more than three times will be disqualified from the contest. All names entered for the contest become the legal property of i2Telecom.

The worst three entries will get 100 free lifetime subscriptions to VoiceStick to distribute however they see fit. The absolute worst entry of all gets to be i2Telecom's VP of marketing. Unless the CEO quits by the time the contest is over.

Seriously, I wish i2Telecom all the best in their quest for a good brand name. I'm sure "YakSaber" will be successful beyond your wildest dreams.

— Phil Harvey, Marketing Editor, Light Reading

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