Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Long and the Short of it

I'm becoming more and more disturbed by what I think I'm going to call the Contraction of America. You know, the way we find to cutely abbreviate everything in our lives. First, for example, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization becomes NATO, then performers like Jennifer Lopez become cheesy nicknames like J. Lo, then couples like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner become one-named amalgams like Bennifer. Every day every name becomes shorter and shorter.

For a number of years now, there has been a fine banking institution called Washington Mutual with branches all over Southern California and across this great nation. A few years ago, in keeping with the aforementioned trend, it started referring to itself in its TV commercials as WAMU. Now, as I wasn't particularly crazy about the nickname but I figured I could live with it.

Until recently.

Which is when the firm opened two new branches in my neighborhood that did not have the bright blue Washington Mutual logo on the sides of the buildings. Instead, in the same typeface as the previous logo, the buildings proudly read WAMU. That's it. Just WAMU. I guess after the several years of TV indoctrination, they expect we should all now know what WAMU means.

I'm sorry, but as far as I'm concerned, WAMU is the sound of a startled cow being hit by a Volkswagen beetle.


Anonymous said...

It's also the name of a very good public radio station here in the Washington, D.C. area, for what that's worth.

Neil Sarver said...

What's interesting is that I worked for an advertising company that had represented Washington Mutual and they definitely referred to themselves as that internally nearly 10 years ago. I never thought it was bad as a shorthand, even when spoken, but I agree it's tacky as an official name somehow.