Bowdens makes a strange (de)Cision

Unlike my colleague Joscelyn, who posted some interesting thoughts about the challenges of media monitoring recently, I don’t often have occasion to interact directly with the monitoring service providers.

That explains how I completely missed the fact that the near-monopoly Observer AB – the 400 lb gorilla in the monitoring space – recently rebranded as “Cision”.

Over the past few years, the team at Stockholm-based Observer has been on something of an M&A tear, rolling up just about every other company in the North American media monitoring, measurement and intelligence space, including: Bacon’s, Bowdens, MediaMap, Delahaye, Verbatim, and Multivision.

In Canada, Bowdens has been pretty much the only game in town for the longest time. They do have some competitors in the media monitoring business – the two main wire services offer monitoring, plus there’s FPInfomart, J&A Media Services, and even the Canadian Press’s own broadcast monitoring – but in every agency I’ve ever worked for or worked with, Bowdens seems to have been the de facto choice. The consensus is that they have the most comprehensive reach; essential reassurance for harried PR staff wanting to feel that they’re never going to miss a mention of their clients.

The other point on which most Canadian PR pros seem agreed is that Bowdens has the worst customer service imaginable. Again – I’ve not had too much direct experience of dealing with them myself, so perhaps I shouldn’t be casting aspersions, but I’ve never heard a good word said about them in all the years I’ve been in this business. Indeed, I've listened to many, many colleagues and clients speculating about how they'd love to set up in competition with Bowdens - to build the proverbial better mousetrap and win on customer service.

And so now the company Canadian PR pros love to hate has pasted an ugly, decidedly gynaecological-sounding new name across their troubled reputation.



I can understand their urge to consolidate their multiple international entities under a single brand. That's just plain marketing sense. But could they not have picked something that sounded a little less like some kind of uncomfortable medical procedure?

I understand that it’s a clipped (ha!) version of “Precision” or perhaps “Decision”, but can’t help immediately thinking “Incision” whenever I hear it. Actually, the first prefix that sprung to mind was an even less flattering one, but I'm trying to exercise a little circumspection here.

Cision. It's not a nice word, is it? There's a hissing, nasty sound as it slips past the teeth – sounding like some sibilant amalgam of seizure, sizzling, censure.

“Nurse! The paddles! He’s having a cision!!”

"Yes, we've had a few complications, so I'm having a scheduled cision..."

Only fractionally more bizarre than the choice of word is the CEO’s quote in the (predictably pompous, self-fluffing) news release that announced the rebrand:

“The new brand and name change is significant because it streamlines client access to our wide range of integrated products and services, providing communication professionals the intelligence and insight that is linked to business strategy.”

Um… how does that bit work, exactly? How does choosing an unpleasant, aspirant word as your new brand name “streamline client access”. If I start calling our minivan a (Mer)cedes, will it beat a (Por)sche in a drag race?

Cision. Ugh. Perhaps it just sounds an awful lot better in Swedish.

Could have been worse, I suppose – at least they didn’t try to call themselves “Monday”.