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Philip Morris Cos. Inc., Richmond's second-largest private employer, wants to change its name to reflect the fact that it makes more than cigarettes. 

All in a Name

Philip Morris Cos. Inc., Richmond's second-largest private employer, wants to change its name to reflect the fact that it makes more than cigarettes. It plans to ask shareholders to approve the moniker Altria Group Inc. at its annual meeting in April. (Curiously, the proposed new name, which vaguely suggests lofty aspirations, is also that of an ancient Etruscan earth goddess.)

That Philip Morris wants to change its 150-year-old name is nothing new to many anti-smoking activists, or the folks at Landor Associates, a San Francisco-based corporate brand and name consulting firm.

In December 1993, Landor came out with a preliminary report on potential names for Philip Morris. Copies of that PowerPoint-style report have been floating around the Internet recently. Here are some of the names on Landor's short list:

Benecor International.
Flagship Brands.
Stellatus International.
Magnus Brands, Inc.
Valorem Group.

Roll off your tongue, don't they? In the end, though, they didn't make it. Here are the top three names recommended by the Landor consultants, along with the consultants' comments:

PMK Worldwide: "Short"; "Broad, flexible"; "Incorporates initials of premier corporate brands"; "Suggestive of heritage of major brands"; "'Worldwide' suggest global brands, strength and stature."

WorldBrands Corp.: "Strong graphic potential"; "Flexible, able to accommodate growth, expansion"; "Conveys leadership positioning"; "Suggests international stature"; "Suggests global, universal brands."

Stellaris Group: "Suggests stellar, of the stars; suggests star performer or performance; suggests superior quality; distinctive, rich in imagery; international in character, easily recognizable; flexible, able to accommodate growth, expansion."

Altria, it seems, was not among Landor's 1993 suggestions. Nor was "Please Forget that We Make Cigarettes and Have Some Mac & Cheese Corp."

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