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’s 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.’s 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.
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’s 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’s chamber of commerce. REUTERS