The Company Formerly Known As

It’s been that kind of a year for Corporate America — the kind when CEOs take the Fifth, when P.R. people seriously consider switching careers, when the only thing that will scrub a company’s name clean is … a new name.

Philip Morris made headlines last spring by rechristening itself Altria — a name that, according to the company, is meant to echo not “altruism,” but the Latin altus, or “high.” Andersen Consulting renamed itself Accenture a while back, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ consulting arm will soon do business as Monday (really:, and Enron is looking for a new name.

Such makeovers have a long history, though they do seem to be increasing in popularity: One consulting firm estimates that of the 3,000-plus corporate name changes last year, an unusually high number appear to be motivated not by technicalities such as mergers and acquisitions, but by image concerns. From the archives, here are a few other inspired choices.

ChemLawn/Chemgreen TruGreen LandCare Nation’s largest landscaping company
Tricon Global Restaurants Yum! Brands Owns Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut
Binladin Telecommunications Group Baud Telecom equipment maker owned by Osama bin Laden’s Saudi relatives
Agricultural Insecticide and Fungicide Association CropLife America Lobbying and trade association representing the nation’s 78 pesticide manufacturers
Benton Oil and Gas Company Harvest Natural Resources Drills for oil and gas in Russia and Venezuela
Nuclear Engineering US Ecology Disposes of toxic and radioactive waste
Monsanto Specialty Chemicals Solutia A spin-off whose holdings include a string of former Monsanto chemical plants
HomeShark iOwn Online mortgage and real estate listings provider

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

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We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

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