It might not be as awful as last year’s “Tronc,” but the new name for the Verizon division that will hold the combined AOL and Yahoo—“Oath,” as tweeted by AOL chief Tim Armstrong—has a decent shot at becoming the most panned corporate branding attempt of 2017.
Tronc, short for “Tribune online content,” is how the struggling newspaper giant Tribune Publishing rebranded itself. Since the name’s introduction last June, the question has been not whether it’s bad, but if it is in fact the worst branding of all time.
Judging by his tweet, Armstrong seems confident in the new name for the Verizon unit:
Whether he retains that confidence when faced with the instant maelstrom of ridicule it generated remains to be seen.
Some wondered if the name was in fact a joke, or a straggler from April Fools’ Day:
Others suggested name alternatives:
It was the bad name in combination with the outdated companies themselves that did it for others:
Many noted the irony of Verizon using a sincere word like “Oath.” Along with other US broadband providers including Comcast and Charter, the company stands to benefit from a bill signed into law by US president Donald Trump April 3—the same day Armstrong unveiled the new name—that has infuriated privacy advocates. The legislation overturns a yet-to-take-effect regulation that would have required the companies to get consumers’ permission before selling their data.
“This really opens up for anything they want to do with your information,” said senator Al Franken. “No limits.”
For some the sincere name brought to mind the massive data breaches Yahoo suffered:
Comparisons to Tronc and other misguided branding attempts were inevitable:
And others speculated what might come next:
Of course the ridicule is only just getting started. Meanwhile, Recode reported, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer won’t be part of the new company, which Armstrong will lead. His first order of business might be to rethink that name.