Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What the hell is 'SyFy'?

The term was invented by writer, publisher and fantasy culture Ur fan Forrest J. Ackerman, but Sci-Fi itself is a concept, a genre - so the fantasy cable specialty network the Sci-Fi Channel couldn't copyright or trademark the name. Presumably they know because they tried.

But artfully miss-spell it after having a team working on variations for literally years? Then you can own it.

The Syfy name is to be introduced on Monday to advertisers and agencies by executives of Sci Fi, part of the NBC Universal Cable Entertainment division of NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric.

The name will be revealed at an upfront presentation, when networks try to win commitments by advertisers to blocks of commercial time before the start of the next TV season. Cable channels will spend this month and next making upfront presentations; the broadcast networks will follow in April and May.

One big advantage of the name change, the executives say, is that Sci Fi is vague — so generic, in fact, that it could not be trademarked. Syfy, with its unusual spelling, can be, which is also why diapers are called Luvs, an online video Web site is called Joost and a toothpaste is called Gleem.

“We couldn’t own Sci Fi; it’s a genre,” said Bonnie Hammer, the former president of Sci Fi who became the president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions. “But we can own Syfy.”

Will Canada's SciFi equivalent the Space Channel soon decide there's no point in their name if it doesn't mean they actually own all of Space? Is Zpays Channel coming next? If so I'm staking my claim to the name now.

If you ever wonder why so much of marketing and consumer product naming seems to just involve deliberately bad spelling - this is why.

UPDATE: So Yeah, Fuck You.

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