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The naming thing.

An unorthodox idea. |


| Thought of the day.

September 23, 2005

The naming thing.

Bruce Nussbaum

I love my Subaru Outback. I’m a birder and spend a lot of time driving to out-of-the-way places to find them. The all-wheel drive Outback gets me there, lugs a lot of high-tech gear easily, is always full of dirt and looks good dirty. My friends in Maine and Oregon love their Outbacks too. They're great in snow. So the brand, Subaru “Outback,” means me on vacation and on the weekends. But the new Suburu Tribeca tortures that identity. “Tribeca?” The attempt at urban sophistication blurs the brand image of a truly great car. Diego Rodriguez wrote an insightful piece in metacool on how Subaru is fast replacing the Saab as the rugged, iconoclastic car of the day. The name Tribeca works against this switch. Of course, a brand name doesn’t define a product. The product defines the brand--up to a point. Mixing a rugged outdoor reality with an urban, cool image doesn't work for me. The Subaru has an outdoors soul.

I like the new car, or rather SUV, a lot. It's got edgy styling and, with the option of a third row of seats, is a good alternative to minivans. But the name? Any 20 or 30-something New Yorker knows that “Tribeca” isn’t even that hip anymore. Subaru should have called its latest car “Williamsburg.” Or “Brooklyn.”

Subaru B9 Tribeca.

10:39 AM


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Bruce, I think Subaru is focusing more on the people they're targeting than the experience they're selling. Maybe that's a mistake. By the way, Subaru, I've heard from demographers, has replaced Volvo as the prototypical Democrat car. So what better way to appeal to blue-staters than a trendy Manhattan neighborhood?

I know, I know, you think Tribeca isn't that trending anymore. But I think you're being too much of a New Yorker here. I bet there are plenty of 20 and 30-somethings throughout this land who still think that Tribeca is cool. Plus, Tribeca has three easy syllables that can be pronounced in any language. I think it's a great word.

I think Williamsburg conjures up more of a horse-n-buggy image than they want. Montclair, though. That has a certain ring.

Posted by: steve baker at September 26, 2005 07:18 PM

Hey, the hot area isn't so much Williamsburg, but DUMBO. The doesn't roll off the tongue either. I live in New York, actually, but I simply refuse to drive any car with a "New York" name. New Yorker, Park Avenue, Tribeca... and it should be TriBeCa. It 's like naming the car something that it isn't. No denizen of Park Avenue would have been caught dead driving a Park Avenue, neither would I be caught dead driving a TriBeCa, just because of the name.

Posted by: Choiski at September 26, 2005 08:38 PM

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