• News/Talk
  • Music
  • Entertainment

Election 2008

If the Candidates were Pharmaceuticals

Bill Radke

Michael Raphael

Full Episode Audio
Larger view
(Neille Ilel)
View the Slideshow

Bill Radke: In a moment, I'm going to ask you to give the candidates their ideal brand names, but let's start with the names they've got. How well are they working?

Jim Singer: I think some work better than others. I think Barack, the sound of his name -- it's a very powerful name. In the world of phonetics, and this is strictly talking about the sounds of words, there are certain elements that cause a word to be more powerful or less powerful. His happens to be a very strong name. It starts with a plosive, which is a little explosion that you create when you say a "p," a "t" or a "k" sound, or a "b"-that's a labial plosive. That catches the ear of the listener, so the first thing he's got going for him is the puff of air, and the "Ba-rack" which is another plosive, a very strong ending similar to some pharmaceuticals out there such as Prozac.

You were part of the team that came up with the name Prozac. How does that process work?

We sit around a table and think up good-sounding words, and then we take them apart and try to sell them to the clients afterwards with a lot of science behind it. But really we're just kind of babbling in there, and when a good one comes out, we write it down.

You just cut your commission in half with the admission that you're babbling without science.

(laughs) Right.

OK, Jim, we asked you earlier this week-so you've had a little time to think about it. If the four front-running presidential candidates were pharmaceuticals, what would you name them?

We thought that for Barack, he stands, ostensibly, for change and hope - and came up with Hopium. For Barack Obama, his drug is Hopium.

Wait a second. Are you sure that's a good idea? Doesn't he have some past recreational drug use?

Oh, that's right. And he not only doesn't deny it, he touts it.

Well, okay. Not that he's not a strong shot of Hopamine, but I'm just wondering if that's a good idea for him.

Hopamine, that's a good one, Bill.

And then for Hillary, she has to constantly prove that she's tough, because you know, sometimes the assumption is that a woman might not be as tough on terrorism as a man. So we thought of some names that had the morpheme, the word-part "tuff." Tuffarelle ...

Nice plosive there.

Exactly. Or Tuffagra.

McCain, now, he's not only willing to keep our troops in Iraq for as long as it takes, but he'd like to even increase the troop numbers. So we thought his drug name might be Escalatra.

And then for Huckabee, we thought, well, he's an evangelical Christian, his drug might be Zelotra, or Zelotene.

Of course, you're politically neutral here.

Of course, I'm neutral. No bias whatsoever (laughs).

No, I don't detect that. Okay, Jim that's excellent. Congratulations to you and your staff.

For this kind of a naming project, we charge $50,000, $75,000 and upwards, but this is gratis.

Thanks. Consider it your pledge to public radio.

  • Music Bridge:
    You Set My Face on Fire
    Artist: Global Goon
    CD: Family Glue (Audio Dregs)
More stories from our Election 2008 series


  • Comment | Refresh

  • Post a Comment: Please be civil, brief and relevant.

    Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. All comments are moderated. Weekend America reserves the right to edit any comments on this site and to read them on the air if they are extra-interesting. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting.

      Form is no longer active


    You must be 13 or over to submit information to American Public Media. The information entered into this form will not be used to send unsolicited email and will not be sold to a third party. For more information see Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Download Weekend America

Weekend Weather

From the January 31 broadcast

Support American Public Media with your Amazon.com purchases
Search Amazon.com:
 ©2015 American Public Media