Creative Marketing

It’s wonderful when an article results in a comment that inspires an article, creating a self-perpetuating geo-oddity cycle. In this instance loyal reader "Pfly" mentioned the curious case of Guadalupe, California which nearly changed its name to Guadalupe Beach even though it was located several miles from the nearest beach.

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NOT On The Beach

Local political leaders hoped that a name change might attract tourists and their wallets. They were so hopeful that they kept a 6% hotel tax in place even though they had no hotels. The town put the name change to a vote on November 6 and residents shot it down 67 to 32 in a victory for common sense.

That triggered a hazy memory of another town that changed its name recently for creative marketing purposes. I couldn’t put my finger on it and it nagged at me for awhile until I finally remembered. How could I have forgotten Bikinis, Texas!

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NOT A Town

Bikinis may be hasty. At the moment it’s still known as Bankersmith and calling it a town may be more than a minor exaggeration. By "known" I mean it’s recognized as a place name by the U.S. Geological Survey and not much more. Ghost Town would be more appropriate. There’s almost nothing left of it anymore. I turned to one of my favorite sources for some context, the Handbook of Texas Online from the Texas State Historical Association:

Bankersmith, located ten miles southeast of Fredericksburg in extreme southern Gillespie County, was established by Rudolf Habenicht in 1913… named for Temple Doswell Smith, president of the first bank to be established in Fredericksburg… At its peak in the 1920s Bankersmith had a store, a dance hall, a lumberyard, and about fifty residents. In 1924 Rudolf Habenicht sold approximately 280 acres, including the town of Bankersmith and any unsold lots, to Louis Klinksiek. The population fell to ten by 1930, and the railroad abandoned its track in 1935. Klinksiek later purchased the remaining lots after the rail line was abandoned and gained back the railroad right-of-way… Much of the area land, including the former townsite, remained in the Klinksiek family in the 2010s.

Some guy who runs a bunch of sports bars featuring scantily-clad women as waitstaff bought Bankersmith in July 2012. He intended to rename it Bikinis as a publicity stunt for his business of the same name, and promptly posted a website (with plenty of news coverage and fanfare). The only flaw in his plan is that nothing much remains of Bankersmith and it’s doubtful that it could be renamed Bikinis officially. I’ll admit that Bikinis is a memorable name. However a forgotten corner of the Texas Hill Country seems an unlikely candidate for Bikinis.

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NOT a Past Participle

There is also a town called Eu in France that was considering changing its name at least as recently as February 2009 because of Internet confusion: "Anybody entering the word ‘Eu’ in a search engine is likely to get a number of results, but most will be a reference to the past participle of the French verb avoir (to have), not to the pretty market town in Normandy. The search also brings up pages related to the European Union" according to the source.

Thus the situation of Eu is different from the other two instances. A name change wouldn’t be intended to make it sound more attractive nor would it be a publicity stunt. It would be an attempt to help people find the town amidst the clutter of the web.

Of course nothing tops the naming of Greenland by Eric the Red for sheer marketing exaggeration, assuming one believes the old legends.

3 Replies to “Creative Marketing”

  1. With Eu, there’s the additional issue that “Maire d’Eu” (Mayor of Eu) is a well-known homophone for a French obscenity and a cause for widespread puerile hilarity (there’s even a song somewhere).

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