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Albuquerque Journal, N.M., Everybody's Business column: All riled up over that Q
[August 23, 2007]

Albuquerque Journal, N.M., Everybody's Business column: All riled up over that Q

(Albuquerque Journal (NM) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Aug. 23--Leave it to Mayor Marty to get Albuquerque all riled up over a letter.

No, not a document from someone to someone. Just a single member of the alphabet. The Q.

Since March, when ad agency Rick Johnson & Co. announced with the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau the Q as the proposed "omnibrand" for the city, the O with a tail has taken a yanking from some of the city's most vocal residents -- bloggers and Alibi readers.

In articles and blog posts, the Q brand has been called "generic," "annoying," "superficial" and "robotic," mostly by backers of an anonymous resistance group hyping the phrase "Soy de Burque!" or "I am from Burque." That's not to say all of the comments are negative, -- one blogger says the Q has "'memorable' potential" -- but the overall tone from this albeit small segment of the community is that the Q is a corporate attempt to label the city as something it's not.

The idea behind the branding was to capitalize on Albuquerque's distinctive spelling -- two Qs -- and the letter's contemporary style. "It's not just a logo or an ad campaign," said Debbie Johnson, CEO of RJC, during the Q's spring coming-out event. "This would be the graphic focal point of the branding."


The last, and possibly only, time the Q got this much attention from the press was 2005, when the often overlooked letter (even the college dictionary gives it only 8{ pages) found itself at the center of a trademark infringement lawsuit between automakers Nissan and Audi. Nissan claimed exclusive right to the Q after years of use on its Infinitis when Audi decided the letter would add flair as a prefix on its new SUV line. (The case was settled out of court.)

It's exactly this type of legal battle that the city is trying to avoid, why the mayor et al. have appeared rather quiet on the subject since the announcement. It's not that the Burquenos have gotten to the administration. Rather, the city lawyers have been at work making sure Albuquerque isn't about to step on the toes of anyone who already has license to the letter.

"And to have some competitive protection ourselves ... (pause) -- from other cities that have two qs in their names," Johnson said wryly during a conference call with the Journal and city officials after the powers that be met about trademark issues last week.

"We're worried about Quebec," Johnson said.

Mayor: "I hear they're changing their name."

Seriously, the mayor said, "We're still Albuquerque, or Albuquerque, if you prefer. People can call us whatever they want, use whatever Q they want. They can use the whole word, half the word, or Spanish slang if they want to."

While the Q is designed to be a marketing tool for business development and for the ACVB to promote city tourism, some local business people are already seizing upon the letter's potential.

Carl Baca just earned his real estate license this summer and immediately secured the Internet domain name theQrealty.com for a future residential real estate business. He's currently focused on a commercial endeavor in the North Valley.

"That's like free marketing for anybody who essentially drafts off of that name, or identifies themselves as something having to do with the Q. It really doesn't matter what business you have, but something with the Q will sound familiar to people with the city and within the state and even in the nation.

"I couldn't afford as an individual business owner to obtain that kind of marketing."

Mayor Martin Chavez says Q-lovers and Q-haters and those who just don't care are welcome to e-mail him their opinions or statements of ambivalence at martinchavez@cabq.gov.

If you have a business news tip, idea or insider information, contact Autumn Gray, assistant business editor, at 823-3962 or agray@abqjournal.com.

To see more of the Albuquerque Journal, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.abqjournal.com.

Copyright (c) 2007, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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