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The CW: That's Really the Name They Want?

You have to wonder if CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves wasn't anticipating the nearly universal derision aimed at the name for the new CBS/Warner Bros. venture, The CW, when he preempted the bathroom jokesters, explaining: “We couldn't call it The WC for obvious reasons.”

If that's obvious, it seems “The CW” is anything but.

What comes to mind when you hear “The CW?” Here's what some marketing savants had to say about the name at the National Association of Television Program Executives conference in Las Vegas.

“Does that stand for 'Country/Western?'” wondered Irwin Gottleib, CEO of the mega media buying firm Group M.

Peggy Green, president, broadcast and entertainment, Zenith Media USA, wasn't the only one with “Carsey-Werner” on the brain, but we imagine Jack Myers, ad consultant and publisher of The Myers Report, was alone in thinking “Chuck Woolery.”

We heard many variations on this theme: “Can't Work,” “Can't Watch,” “Can't Win.”

“Initial resistance to changing a name is pretty common,” says Chris Ender, senior VP of communications at CBS Corp. “What's really going to attract viewers and advertisers is programming brands, like Everybody Hates Chris.”

Simon Williams, president of Sterling Brands, says the name is “true to what it is. It's a blend, and blended brands tend to be vanilla.”

By the same token, “there's no negative,” he added. “You can make The CW whatever you want it to be.”

In that case, Flash! looks forward to watching The Christopher Walken network.

Brand X

As puzzling as the new network's name is, the logo—which looks to us like a vending-machine business card—left many assuming that the logo (if not the name, too) was provisional and would be scrapped by summer. But Gil Schwartz, CBS executive VP for communications, says, “There's no reason to believe it's not the logo.”

Whether it's temporary or something that Moonves and Warner Bros. Entertainment chief Barry Meyer, will come to regret in the morning, the logo is the heart of CW's brand identity.

Legendary designer Milton Glaser knows something about brand identity. What does he think about the logo and what it says about the new network?

“It's curiously flat,” he says. “Uninteresting, unprovocative, unmemorable.”

Glaser isn't eager to trash another designer's work, but ...

“What's particularly egregious is, it's very clunky,” he adds. “It's supposed to be about entertainment, but it looks like it's for a low-class hardware manufacturer.”

It appears to be a product of consensus, he says, and suggests that “they don't trust the capacity of the audience.”

In all fairness, the CW logo is a tough sell next to the Big Three's iconic symbols, particularly CBS' own.

“The CBS eye may be the greatest logo ever designed, with the exception of the cross,” Glaser says. “It sets a very high standard, and very few have matched it.

“It can't do anybody any good,” he says of the CW logo. “At the same time, it can't hurt.”

Bull's-eye.

Master of CW's Domain

We learned this week that a British psychologist has calculated mathematically that Jan. 24 is the most depressing day of the year. (So if you felt as melancholy as we did last Tuesday, don't blame it all on The CW.)

But if anyone found a silver lining in that gray day, it was Ravindra Bala.

As far as we can tell, Bala is something of a prospector of Web addresses, scooping up unregistered domain names in the hope of finding a nugget or two that someone wants to buy from him. On Tuesday, it appears, he struck gold.

Word circulated around media blogs that THECW.com was registered by Bala last November—only weeks before the now fabled Thanksgiving weekend dinner party where Moonves and Meyer hatched their master plan.

Flash! reached Bala last week. He declined to discuss the matter, allowing only that sudden interest in THECW.com was “unexpected” and that he'd received more e-mail than usual. (We don't know if he saw reports last week that the domain name sex.com, which someone had the foresight to register in 1994, sold for as much as $14 million).

When asked how CBS and Warner Bros. planned to deal with Bala, a source close to one of the networks didn't mince words.

“Obviously,” the source deadpanned, “he's going to have to be tracked down and killed.”

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