In a recent Dumb Dozen newsletter—sign up here!—we mentioned a Chinese sportswear maker called Uncle Martian, which might sound like the name of a wacky sitcom starring Jack Black as a hapless extraterrestrial living with an average suburban family and presented to others as a relative visiting from "abroad."
But it's not.
Uncle Martian is 100% real. We cannot stress that enough.
In an incredible coincidence, Uncle Martian's logo looks a lot like the logo for the American sportswear company Under Armour:
Or so some are claiming. The folks at Uncle Martian just don't see it.
As one company exec said, in a Wall Street Journal article:
“We’re focusing on developing our own brand, and our brand has nothing to do with theirs at all,” Mr. Zheng [Maoxin, head of the marketing department for Uncle Martian’s parent company] said. “I wouldn’t comment on those online rumors. Our brand has been authorized by the Administration for Industry and Commerce, so how does that not count?”
So there you have it.
We, for one, believe them. There are only so many colors out there, and so many typefaces, and so many ways one can arrange stylized letters in a logo that looks sort of like an X, and if one logo ends up looking, at a distance, just like that of a major brand in the same product category, well, that's your problem.
We are much more interested in the name itself. Who names a sportswear company Uncle Martian? Why? And what drugs, exactly, were they smoking at the time?
A report in The New York Times takes a stab at the first two questions:
Some speculated it might be trying to appeal to the popularity in China of the movie “The Martian,” starring Matt Damon. But that’s only the name in English. In Chinese, it is a mere transliteration of “Uncle Martian” — An Ke Ma Ting. The characters mean, roughly, “Encore Ma Sandbar.”
Which raises more questions than it answers.
That WSJ piece adds this bit of information, which is interesting:
To some, Uncle Martian’s Chinese name, 安可玛汀, or Ankemading, doesn’t sound all that different from Under Armour’s Chinese transliteration, 安德玛, or Andema.
Another meaningless coincidence, if you ask us.
We may never get any satisfactory answers. We may also never know how the people behind this coloring book feel, because we assume they're dead by now:
Which is too bad, because we think they'd offer some great quotes. Stay tuned to Dumb Runner for further developments.
Meantime, on a totally unrelated note, we have some exciting news to share. Dumb Runner has just signed with an exclusive partner. Please join us in saying "welcome aboard" to our shoe and apparel sponsor...
Brocks®—accept no imitations.