'2000:' Theme Of The Past?

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Marketing departments and advertising agencies have some Y2K compliancy issues of their own.

And by all accounts they'll need creative fixes, not computer code, to make them go away.

What to do about products and companies associated with the Year 2000 once it becomes a part of the present, not to mention the past?

The imminent arrival of the new millennium has some companies in a name-changing rush.

Computer maker Gateway 2000, for example, has dropped the number from its corporate name and is now known as Gateway Inc. Shell Oil Co. has stopped selling its SU2000 gasoline. A "2000" microwave popcorn under the ConAgra Brands is about to become "Extreme Butter" instead.

Even children's book hero Harry Potter has been given an upgrade. Harry's Nimbus Two Thousand flying broomstick used in early volumes of the series has been traded in for a Firebolt in the most recent book. The new model, compared to the older model, boasts "superbly smooth action."

"Once New Year's Eve comes and goes, anything that says '2000' on it could seem backward-looking." said Richard Schreuer of Chadwick Martin Bailey, a Boston consulting firm that helps companies develop product names.

Enough already, said Patrick Devine, whose Amsterdam, N.Y., company recently quit selling its Concept 2000 woodworking tool. Once, the name seemed innovative, he told the Globe, but lately, "You want to stick your finger down your throat anytime you hear a reference" to 2000.

"It was this nice, round number, a universal symbol that conjured up a future we could all relate to," Schreuer told The Boston Globe. "I don't know what the shorthand for the future is going to be."


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