When a company makes a big mistake, it must act fast to avoid a scandal that gets out of control. In addition to hiring a professional to manage the impact of a major negative event, some companies choose to undergo a name change. They do this with the hope that customers will forget about what happened and continue to do business with them.
Here are eight companies people hated so much they had to change names.
1. Philip Morris
Changed name to: Altria
Philip Morris received a lot of negative attention after it was accused of making products that led to the smoking-related death of a customer. The day the charges were dropped, the company, which used to own Kraft foods, attempted to start over by renaming itself Altria. Not everyone was satisfied with the name change. ”Instead of changing its business practices, Philip Morris has chosen a public relations campaign to divert attention away from what it does,” Matthew L. Myers, president of the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids told The New York Times.
Changed name to: AirTran Airways
ValuJet couldn’t shake the bad reputation it got after flight 592 crashed in the Everglades in 1996. All 110 passengers perished. An investigation revealed SabreTech, the airline’s maintenance contractor, was responsible for the accident due to unsafe cargo conditions. The New York Times reports ValuJet had at least three minor accidents since it began operations in 1993. ValuJet merged with AirTran in 1997, giving up its name in the process. AirTran Airways was later acquired by Southwest Airlines in 2011.
3. Time Warner Cable
Changed name to: Spectrum
If you’re like many consumers, you probably have some gripes about your cable service provider. One company that had its share of gripes was Time Warner Cable. Time Warner Cable became synonymous with bad customer service, so it had to figure out a way to improve its reputation. Another cable company, Charter Communications, also had the same problem. The companies merged early in 2017 and took on the name Spectrum.
4. Research in Motion
Changed name to: BlackBerry
Research in Motion, the first wireless data technology developer in North America, was founded in 1984. As technology advanced, Research in Motion became less popular among users. The company had trouble keeping up with competitors. Apple was growing in popularity as a result of the iPhone, and there was also competition from Android handset makers, reports Tech Crunch. Research in Motion decided to rebrand itself, changing the company’s name to BlackBerry in 2013.
5. Ivanka Trump
Temporarily changed to: Adrienne Vittadini Studio
This name change is a bit different from the others, because it wasn’t official, and Ivanka’s representatives didn’t even know about it. Discount retailer Stein Mart sold Ivanka Trump products under the label “Adrienne Vittadini Studio,” which is unrelated to Trump’s brand. Business of Fashion reported G-III, the company that licenses Ivanka Trump ready-to-wear, changed the label on the Trump inventory without the company’s knowledge and sold it to discount chain Stein Mart. Once the incident was uncovered, G-III issued a statement, saying it would fix the problem.
Changed name to: MCI
WorldCom was caught inflating revenues so it could keep stock prices artificially high. The impact of the $11 billion accounting fraud resulted in the company filing for bankruptcy in 2002. WorldCom tried to improve its image by moving its headquarters from Clinton, Mississippi, to Dulles, Virginia. It later changed its name to MCI, a company WorldCom acquired in 1997. A federal judge sentenced Scott D. Sullivan, the company’s former chief financial, to five years in prison.
7. Pete’s Super Submarines
Change name to: Subway
Pete’s Super Submarines opened its doors in 1965 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Entrepreneur Fred DeLuca borrowed $1,000 from family friend Dr. Peter Buck so he could start a sandwich business. About a year later, Peter’s Super Submarines was changed to Doctor’s Associates Inc., in honor of Buck, who was a co-founder. However, customers weren’t receptive to either name. They tried the name Pete’s Subway, and then finally settled on the name Subway.
Changed name to: Xe
Blackwater got into trouble after a 2007 incident that resulted in the deaths of 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians. This incident prompted the company to look for ways to distance itself from being associated with these events. Consequently, in 2009, the company changed its name to Xe. However, the name change didn’t lead to the expected results. Despite the rebranding, the State Department decided to sever ties with the company.
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