Wisconsin Tourism Foundation (WTF) Changes Branding Over Abbreviation, Takes Heat

Anyone even remotely associated with social media these days is familiar with the cute little abbreviations that dominate text messages, Twitter updates, and — unfortunately — now general correspondence. You know, LOL (laugh out loud); BRB (be right back); OMG (Oh my God); and of course, WTF? (What the … "frig?").

Naturally, the latter has become a bit of a sticking point for the Wisconsin Tourism Foundation (WTF), causing the organization to ultimately change its name to the Tourism Foundation of Wisconsin  (TFW) — even though it had been around for 30 years. Communications company Ragan.com took the TFW to task for caving into the confusion, rather than embracing it. From their PR Junkie blog, they offer:

Wisconsin, you blew it.

The Associated Press reports that your Wisconsin Tourism Federation — WTF — quietly rebranded in July, changing its name to the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin — TFW.

Get it? WTF to TFW.

So, what prompted this rebranding? After all, Wisconsin’s WTF was around well before teens, and later adults, started saying WTF to mean “what the f***.”

“Blogs started poking fun at it,” the Association Press reported.

Because blogs started poking fun at it? Really? One blog, it seems, made fun of it. That blog is called YourLogoMakesMeBarf.com. On July 1, the blog posted the Tourism Federation’s logo with this comment, “would really think someone would warn them about this kind of stuff.”

Ouch. Better call up the PR SWAT team for that one.

Other blogs and articles are claiming the people of Wisconsin cracked wise about the acronym endlessly, and the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin, a group of businesses in the state, finally got sick of it. Clearly, the blog YourLogoMakesMeBarf.com played a strong hand in the decision, given the timing.

It was a big mistake. This organization had a marketing goldmine. Wisconsin’s “WTF” was branded in 1979. So, WTF, optimize it! Next time someone types WTF into Google, there’s your site. Someone types WTF into a Facebook update or Gmail e-mail and an ad for Wisconsin appears.

What are your thoughts? Should the WTF have changed its name, or simply celebrated its unexpected entry into the world of new age jargon?