Use a tissue to clean up

I noticed an interesting ad recently in Columbia Journalism Review. It showed an eraser and a partially erased, hand-written registered trademark symbol, with a caption of “do not erase,” as well as the Kleenex logo and a photo of a box of Kleenexes.

The copy in the ad made the case for not using the registered trademark brand name Kleenex name in place of the word “tissue.” The ad compares this to erasing the Kleenex Brand Tissue name and instructs the use of the registered trademark symbol and the words “Brand Tissue.”

It was a clever ad concept with a simple design – the color was limited to the eraser, the Kleenex Brand Tissue logo and the photo of the product. The copy and the trademark symbol were in black ink, and the background was white. The ad was an attention-getter.

Journalists are trained in school to use generic words in place of a brand name in most cases. The AP Stylebook lists a number of brand names and suggests generic words that can be used. Exceptions are made when the name of the brand is integral to the story.

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