Don’t LOL, but Procter & Gamble wants to trademark WTF

Marketing takes a millennial turn.
Marketing takes a millennial turn.
Image: Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision for Procter & Gamble/AP Images
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Millennial text-speak might soon find its way out of your smartphone—and onto your detergent. The multi-national consumer goods maker, Procter & Gamble, have filed trademark applications for four popular acronyms: WTF (what the f***), LOL (laughing out loud), NBD (no big deal), and FML (f*** my life).

The Cincinnati, Ohio-based P&G is best known for brands such as Febreze, Dawn, and Tide. The company has applied to use the acronyms on its liquid soap, dishwashing detergent, hard surface cleaners, and air freshers, CNBC reports.

Attorney Megan Hymore, who is part of P&G’s senior counsel, made the filings in April of this year, but so far, the outcome is TBD. (That means to be decided, in case you didn’t know. If you want an extensive list of online acronyms to make puns with, you can find one here.) According to Ad Age, the US Patent and Trademark Office has requested clarification regarding the applications, and P&G has until January to respond.

While P&G has yet to comment on the move, it’s likely part of strategy to appeal to younger consumers. Board member Nelson Peltz has previously posited that millennials want brands that they “have an emotional attachment to.” But using familiar language, or language a company assumes its target audiences speak, can sometimes backfire. Remember when Microsoft tried to recruit interns by addressing them as “BAE”  (a moniker of affection meaning “before anyone else”)? And the last time that P&G sparked a millennial trend people started eating Tide pods.

It’s unclear what P&G, a company that spent more than $7 billion worldwide on advertising in the fiscal year ending June 2017, will do if the trademark applications are approved. The Cincinnati Business Inquirer mused that WTF will be used “as social media shorthand for ‘Why That’s Febreze.’ But WTHK (‘Who The Heck Knows’)?”

As for Quartz’s predictions, we think “wow, that’s Febreze!” could be a contender for WTF. Or maybe, “no better detergent” for NBD. We’re going to bet on “freshen my laundry” for FML, and translate LOL to “love over lint.” IDK if P&G will take our suggestions, though.