Naming the Edsel (Condensed) (2001) Harvard Business School Case (Fournier and Wojnicki)
Reveals the interesting and unusual story behind Ford’s selection of “Edsel” as the new brand name for its ill-fated 1957 new product launch. Noteworthy as perhaps the most extensive, creative, and politically charged naming stories on record. Although both nontraditional approaches to name generation (i.e., correspondence with a popular poet of the time) and more traditional research tools (e.g., consumer surveys exploring top-of-mind brand-name associations and opposites, advertising agency brainstorming) provide input to the naming decision, this is all put aside by the company’s chairman of the board, who makes a unilateral decision to use “Edsel” in the final hour. This name choice goes against both consumer research, which suggests problems with the name, and the beliefs of Edsel’s sons, who feel that their father may not want his name so utilized, thus revealing the aesthetic quality of the naming decision.