Saturday, June 28, 2008

From premodern to postmodern branding all on one truck

From Premodern to Postmodern Branding All on One Truck
The name Piggly Wiggly comes straight out of the marketing conventions of late 19th and early 20th-century America. The company was founded in 1916, when brands still tended toward cute, folksy, punning or rhyming names, often involving cartoon animals. The idea seemed to be to come up with something so goofy people couldn't forget it. From their website:
Saunders' reason for choosing the intriguing name Piggly Wiggly ® remains a mystery; he was curiously reluctant to explain its origin. One story is that he saw from a train window several little pigs struggling to get under a fence, and the rhyming name occurred to him then. Someone once asked him why he had chosen such an unusual name for his organization, and Saunders' reply was, "So people will ask that very question." He wanted and found a name that would be talked about and remembered.
While many companies founded at the time eventually adopted more bland or conventional names, Piggly Wiggly -- concentrated mostly in the southeast but reaching as far north as Wisconsin -- made few concessions to the age of high modernism, although one might argue that the lower-case logo shows some modernist design influences. But the slogan on the back of the truck, "Shop the Pig," is pure ironic postmodernism. The tone is edgy, aggressive and almost mocking.

Interestingly, the trucks seem to be speeding ahead of the company's own website, which aims for more of a small-town, nostalgic feel. The pig is always referred to respectfully as Mr. Pig. His caricature is played straight and appears multiple times in different poses on the site. And "Shop the Pig" is never mentioned. It wouldn't be polite.

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