Code Names Decoded

I have a confession: I love code names! One of the pleasures in my 25+ year marketing career was how I often got to choose the official code name for projects. But instead of sticking with the pseudo-science approach where one picks a scientific term such as “Project Fusion,” I preferred to create “families” of code names that reflected the nature of the innovations. As an example, I once used the names of the Seven Dwarfs as code names for the new items of a line of cold remedy products. Most of them were logical, such as Sleepy for the non-drowsy variant and Doc for the multi-symptom product, but the president of the company got mad when I named his pet project Dopey (it was a really stupid idea). A few weeks later he issued an internal memorandum on the development of code names and introduced the new requirement for top management approval of code names prior to project launch. So much for my code name fun!

There are other funny stories about code names. For example, Xbox was the code name for Microsoft’s gaming platform. To show what an unpopular choice Xbox would be with consumers, Microsoft’s marketing team put it on the list of names that it focus-grouped. Xbox won by a landslide.

This and other stories on code names are shown in this slideshow from PC Magazine:


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