Friday, February 07, 2014

1289 The Flagship

It’s becoming one of those overused words like “premium” and “solution” and “signature.”

The word, once two words, comes from the Navy.  It’s the ship on which the commander of a group of other ships is stationed.  It carries a distinctive flag to show who’s boss or best or fastest.

Makes sense, right?  Sure.

But its use has spread to countless other industries.

The radio and TV networks were among the first to co- opt the term. You’ve heard “this is the flagship station of the such and such radio network.”

But others have jumped aboard this… uh… flagship.

Atlanta calls itself the flagship city of the south.  Tell that to the people in Charlotte or Montgomery or Richmond.

For a major city in an important area, that word stealing is at least borderline acceptable.

But how about this one:  The “Moto X” is Motorola’s flagship smartphone.

Budweiser is Anheuser Busch’s flagship beer.

The Impala is Chevy’s flagship sedan.

The 787 Dreamliner is Boeing’s flagship airplane.

Macy’s on 34th Street is the company’s flagship store.

Some of these are real, but even those that aren’t are reasonable given the way flagship is used today.

Language evolves through use.  But it also dilutes through use.  “Premium” used to mean a trinket you got when you bought something. Or a cracker. Now it means “better than the bargain brand.  We have premium ice cream, furniture, carpeting, paint, wool and dog breeds.

“Solution” used to mean either a liquid or the answer to a problem.  Now it’s a synonym for “company.”

“Signature” used to mean when you wrote your name in cursive script. Now, it means…. flagship.

So, how long before fire companies and railroads have flagship engines, funeral homes have flagship coffin carriers and the EMS has a flagship ambulance… that takes the sick and injured to some chain’s flagship hospital where they will be treated using Johnson & Johnson’s flagship adhesive bandage, the Band-Aid, and with its flagship painkiller, Tylenol.


--CVS has announced the end of tobacco sales, though has said nothing about e-cigarettes.  Who was it said all publicity is good as long as they spell your name right?  CVS is hard to misspell.

--Philip Seymour Hoffman was said to be one of the great actors of our time and died with a hypodermic needle in his arm and his apartment stocked like an illegal drug emporium.  The medical examiner says the results of his autopsy were “inconclusive and further tests are needed.”  Yeah… take a look at that ingrown toenail.

--A burglar smashed open the locked door to a fishing shop in Rochester, Minnesota only to be faced with a mounted big mouth bass that started singing the Al Green hit "Take Me to the River."  The frightened crook fled empty handed.  And the door was insured.

-How do the Olympic games manage to have events a full day before the opening ceremony?

-Did you stay up to watch Leno’s “last” show or at least record it while you slept?

-How long before NBC comes back to Jay, hat in hand, asking him to help them get back the ratings they are bound to lose at 11:35 each weeknight?

-Can anyone explain in 140 characters or fewer why Twitter stock is such a dog?

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014

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