Nov. 22, 2005
SALMON, Idaho - Officials in the northern Idaho town of Santa, Idaho, Monday voted to rename the 115-person hamlet Secretsanta.com to hype an online gift exchange management service.
Last-minute legal wrangling left unclear whether the water board for Santa, the town’* only official body, had the authority to approve a new moniker. Even so, the board voted in favor of becoming Secretsanta.com in exchange for an undisclosed sum from a planned documentary on the name change.
Santa is the latest in a lengthening list of rural communities to agree to bear the brand of a company or service. Clark, Texas last week changed its name to Dish to promote EchoStar Communications Corp.’* Dish Network.
In 2000, Halfway, Oregon agreed to call itself Half.com after an Internet retailer later purchased by eBay Inc.
The towns are following a tradition established in 1950 when Hot Springs, New Mexico changed its name to Truth or Consequences after a radio program that became a TV game show.
What'* in a name? For town of DISH, free TV
Gidget McQueen, the Santa official spearheading the re-christening, said the deal with Secretsanta.com -- a Web site that group gift exchange planning -- is too good to pass up for a village that is otherwise not on the map.
The expected re-dubbing of Santa with ceremonies planned for Dec. 9 is the brainchild of marketing guru Mark Hughes, chief executive of Buzzmarketing and the architect behind Halfway, Oregon’* name change.
Halfway, Oregon officials say being known for one year as Half.com brought the city $75,000 and 20 computers for its schools. “Even to this day, we still have people come through and talk about Half.com,” said Ralph Smead, member of the area’* chamber of commerce. REUTERS
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