Monday, 16 February 2009

What's in a name?

Blackwater, the world's best known mercenary group, have finally faced up to the fact that their conduct in Iraq has made them a byword for corporate thuggery and... changed their name.

It's a rare surrender for a company that cherished a brand name inspired by the dark-water swamps of northeastern North Carolina, one that survived another rebranding effort about a year ago, following a deadly shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square. The decision to give it up underscores how badly the Moyock-based company's brand was damaged by that incident and other security work in Iraq.

Even before the PR disaster of opening fire on civilians, Blackwater was never the most reassuring name for a global purveyor of violence. The new name, "Xe", by contrast plumps for the definitively meaningless, and as such in no way sounds like a shadowy league of assassins.

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling
Took wages: shot civilians dead.

The good news is their contract's ended;
Bad reputations still cost you pay;
But with time some wounds are mended:
Rebranded, they'll be back one day.

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