Three Baby Names that Came from TV Commercials

Jan 16th 2019

Once upon a time, tv commercials were America's common language. They were catchy, they were inescapable, they were universal. In the glory days of network tv, you might not have watched the exact same shows as your neighbors, but you definitely knew not to squeeze the Charmin, asked "Where's the beef?," and could sing all the words to the "Meow Mix" cat food song. (Spoiler: they're all "meow.")

For the ultimate proof of the impact of vintage tv ads, I present baby names. Meet three names that became overnight phenomena thanks to the power of commercials. 


In 1993, Hellmann's/Best Foods introduced a brand-new sandwich spread. It combined the tang of French-style Dijon mustard with Hellman's famous mayonnaise to produce a revolutionary creamy "Dijonnaise"TM.

In other words, it was mayo + mustard, for those who couldn't be bothered to use two different condiments. That might seem prosaic, but a genius of advertising thought to set the new product to the tune of Gene Chandler's doo wop classic "Duke of Earl." Di, Di, Di, Dijonnaise, Di Di...take a listen to the ad, and I dare you to keep the jingle out of your head. It certainly stuck in the head of American parents, who named 23 girls Dijonnaise in 1993.


In the 1980s, wine coolers had a moment. The mildly alcoholic drinks were essentially pre-packaged punch: a mixture of soda, juice and cheap wine in individual serving sizes, ready to slip in with the Budweiser in your party ice chest. For a few heady years, they were everywhere. But hey, before you laugh at the '80s consider that the current trend is for "hard seltzer," which is marketed as good for you because it's low in carbs. Mark your calendar for 25 years from now to look back and snicker.

Anyway, the top wine cooler brand, Bartles & Jaymes, was a Gallo product that hit it big with an unlikely ad campaign. Two gray-haired country gents sat on a front porch and said "thank you for your support" for "their" new wine cooler brand. The name Jaymes, previously an obscure spelling of Jaymes seen just a handful of times each year, immediately took off. During the ad campaign's peak in 1986, 144 American boys were named Jaymes.


When was the last time you heard a perfume theme song? Back in the '70s and '80s, companies like Revlon and Prince Matchabelli churned out jingles to make their scents household names. Each perfume was positioned as a lifestyle statement, typically either romantic and beguiling ("Your Wind Song stays on my mind") or fresh and liberated ("Kinda free, kinda WOW, Charlie")—but always with the explicit purpose of winning over men, who were pictured either in expensive business suits or riding horses along the beach.

Revlon's Enjoli (AHN-zhǝ-LEE) perfume crafted its 1978 vision of the modern woman out of Peggy Lee's powerhouse song "I'm a Woman." Their revised lyrics served as an introduction to the superwoman ideal: full-time businesswoman, full-time homemaker, and full-time seductress. "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never-never-never let you forget you're a man." In the first two years after the jingle's launch, 185 girls were named Enjoli.

Could any advertisement pack that kind of cultural punch today?




January 16, 2019 2:02 PM

And also the #1 trend name of all time, Deneen! (Unlike these, not a brand name, but it was definitely due to a person featured in a commercial.)

For interested readers, has a lot of really great pop culture phenomenon tracking-down names featured, too. Sometimes it's hard to pin down whether the brand name is just a particularly apt and catchy name, or if it's the power of the commercial, though.

January 16, 2019 9:54 PM

Was anyone ever named Calgon? That was a brilliant advertising campaign.

January 17, 2019 12:07 PM

@Elizabeth T.: I didn't find any Calgons in the SSA data. Apparently, nobody thought it to be name-like enough, which is surprising given that people thought Dijonnaise was name-like.

@Laura: "...previously an obscure spelling of Jaymes seen just a handful of times each year..." - I think you meant to write James here, not Jaymes.

January 25, 2019 6:25 PM

Weren't Misty and/or Dawn also names that came from a commercial? Or at least popularized by one? 

January 26, 2019 11:44 AM

eloumarx, there are lots of names that can be traced to TV commercials. Laura just chose three to feature, all of them specifically brand names, rather than names of characters/people.

Dawn dish soap was invented in 1973, but the name's fairly steep witch's hat graph on NameVoyager starts in the 1940s (with the brim starting in the 1910s), and by 1973 it's starting on its way down, so I don't think this name can be attributed to the brand. If anything, the brand cemented its decline in popularity.

The only thing with brand name Misty that I can find is cigarettes introduced in 1990, which totally does not fit the name's steep witch's (almost wizard's) hat graph centered on the 1970s.

February 28, 2019 3:07 PM

This are really good names. I will name my first born from the name mentioned above.


March 2, 2019 7:33 AM

I named my baby girl Tesla. Tesla Nikola gave so much to the world. 

I hope my child will follow his steps and give something back by doing her part to help the world. 


March 4, 2019 8:30 AM

Hi Laura, 

I hope you're doing ok! Missed your posts last month. Take care and hope to see you writing again soon!

March 5, 2019 9:55 PM

I’ve been wondering the same thing. Hope all is well Laura.

March 5, 2019 10:08 PM

Laura will be debuting a new naming site soon! Stay tuned...

By imia
March 15, 2019 3:35 PM

good list of names

March 15, 2019 9:08 PM

Aside TV commercials, another media element that influences choice of names is TV series and reality TV shows. In my country, almost everyone started naming their newborns Miracle because a guy named Miracle won a popular reality TV show. That's the power of TV, whether it is TV commercial, reality TV show or series.

Thank you very much for these great names.


March 17, 2019 1:24 PM

Another name from movies in Nemo. I have seen people use this name on their child. This name came from a kids movie called Finding Nemo. Wonderful movie and great for showing kids an amazing underwater world .

Thanks for the great post.

March 25, 2019 10:27 AM

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