Adventures in Business Stupidity

You know, it’s kind of encouraging that every time you think you’ve seen every kind of bad decision there is, humanity finds a way to invent whole new categories. The latest fad in business stupidity is the Ridiculous Re-Naming — taking a perfectly good business and slapping it with a howlingly ludicrous moniker on the advice of some overpaid “branding consultants” who insist that the name is much more critical to the success of the business than the quality of the service or the price at which you offer it.

The most recent victim of this practice? United Airlines, which just announced their plan to launch a low-cost carrier to compete with Southwest and its like. Now, that in itself is not necessarily a bad idea — Southwest is clearly doing something right, so for United to steal a page from their book might not be a bad idea. But what did United decide to call this little venture of theirs?


Yes. The new airline will be named Ted. I thought the airlines had scraped the bottom of the naming barrel back when Delta (another victim of Ridiculous Re-Naming) decide to re-name their Delta Express service to “Song“, but “Ted” beats that by a country mile. Just think of the conversations we’ll get to have!

“Sorry I was late — Ted was backed up over O’Hare.”

“I rode Ted all night from New York to LA.”

… and so forth. Of course, the name isn’t the only misguided thing about Ted; it turns out that United hasn’t really done much thinking about how to run a low-cost service at, you know, a lower cost than their traditional service, which doesn’t bode well for Ted’s prospects. The Chicago Tribune has a great story analyzing the Ted launch, and they got a quote that’s laugh-out-loud funny:

Despite the good-natured hype, experts remain skeptical about whether the new discount offshoot, which is intended to mimic the success of such carriers as Southwest Airlines, makes sense for United.
“They can call it Ted; they can call it Trans-Deficit Airlines. It doesn’t make any difference. The concept doesn’t work,” said Michael Boyd, an airline consultant in Colorado.

Trans-Deficit Airlines! Hee. Michael Boyd, whoever you are, I salute you.