I WAS at a party and had had a couple of drinks and decided that it was a good time to regale my companions with the story of a rodent infestation with which I had had to deal when I was 16 years old.
Some people sing when they are merry, other people get into brawls. I tell stories about being inconvenienced by vermin to people who wish they were somewhere else.
I will not get into the story at this stage, as I am sober and you do not need to hear about it.
But while I was telling the tale to my appalled companions, the name Rentokil cropped up, and for the first time in my life it occurred to me how “on the nose” that name is.
If I were in the business of vermin mass murder, I would name my company “Removapest” or “Troublaway”, just to make the act sound more palatable. Even Mafiosi talk about “taking out” or “knocking off” opponents.
But there is no being circumspect with Rentokil, there is no gloss, there is no “the rats went to live on a farm” with Rentokil. You know exactly what Rentokil is selling. Or renting.
And yet, as on the nose as Rentokil is, it is like a cryptic crossword clue in comparison with InjuryLawyers4U.
You might expect that you would not need to be told in which line of business InjuryLawyers4U operates, but life is apparently not that simple.
So I have become a little obsessed with the InjuryLawyers4U advert which appears on daytime television. I am going to do you the courtesy of assuming that you never watch daytime television and describe what happens in this advertisement.
It starts with an arty shot of a man with his head in his hands. “You’ve had an accident that wasn’t your fault,” the narrator says. Hmm, you will think when you see him, that man looks guilty. I bet the accident was his fault.
“You need help and you want legal advice. You don’t want social media experts,” the narrator says, as some scary clowns bang on a window behind Guilto The Definitely Responsible For That Accident.
Of course I don’t want social media experts, you will think. Nobody in the history of the world has ever thought, “I need legal advice, I’d better call a social media expert.” Why are you even bringing them up, narrator?
“You don’t want cold callers.” Wait a minute, you will think at this point. That’s exactly what I want. If I had had an accident that wasn’t my fault, and I received a phone call from one of those people who ring when you’re about to have your tea to discuss the “accident” I have had recently, that would be literally the only time I would welcome a cold caller. It would save me the price of a phone call.
But the narrator has already moved on. “You don’t need celebrity endorsements,” he says, pointlessly, as a crowd of business suited people who, quite frankly, look exactly like personal injury lawyers join the clowns in bashing the windows.
“You need,” the narrator goes on, “an injury lawyer for you. That’s why we’re called InjuryLawyers4U.” And suddenly the scales fall from your eyes.
Ah, you think, now I understand. Before now I would have assumed a firm called InjuryLawyers4U would specialise in painting and decorating, or quantity surveying, or Zumba.
But now, thanks to this advertisement, I get it. It’s such a clever name. Thank you for explaining to me, an imbecile, so clearly why you would be called InjuryLawyers4U.
At this point, you are probably thinking that I am being sarcastic. And you would be correct.
I do not mind an “on the nose” name. Phones4U, Bargain Booze, Kentucky Fried Chicken – they are all acceptable names for businesses. And when you advertise them, feel free to tell me how good your phones are, how cheap your Lambrini is, or how happy your chickens were before you popped them in batter and deep-fried them.
But what you don’t have to do is spend three-quarters of your advert explaining what your name means.
Because the only people who see the name “InjuryLawyers4U” and have no idea what that might mean are the sort of people who were definitely responsible for the accident in which they were involved, because they are incredibly stupid.
But not as stupid as somebody who tells strangers at a party about finding a decomposing rat under his floorboards.