Bumper stumpers – or why acronyms are futile

The letters PM could be a mystery to many.

Let’s agree that bumper stickers and magnets on cars are meant to promote a cause, to gain visibility for something or just to show you’re proud of something, such as a sports team, vacation destination or hometown.

With that as the parameter, then why do many bumper stickers and magnets use acronyms, symbols and logos that people do not understand?

For example, the bumper magnet that says: “NOFO.”

It stands for North Fork, N.Y., but its effect is NOMO, as in NO MOtorists will understand its meaning.

Often, bumper magnets promote sports teams. Most everyone will understand a prominent pro sports team logo on a bumper magnet or sticker. Even logos for major universities generally are understood.

But for small colleges, high schools and most towns and vacation spots – that’s different.

For example, take the Penn Manor High School field hockey team logo from Lancaster County. (Full disclosure, it’s my alma mater and my niece was captain of the state championship team in 2014.)

The team’s bumper magnet says “PMFH” and includes a couple of field hockey sticks.

Some in central Pennsylvania will know that PM stands for Penn Manor. But outside of central Pennsylvania, few will get it. PM might as well mean Pocono Mountain or prime minister or pumpkin mousse.

Don’t you want to spread the word about your team or cause beyond where you live? If so, spell it out: PENN MANOR.

Even the two sticks on the magnet might not be understood. Perhaps they instead represent ice hockey or a hobby or obscure activity.

If you want your cause to gain visibility, be overt and spell it out.

Otherwise, the acronym police will give you a ticket for DWC – driving while confusing the hell out of the public.


— OXYMORON OF THE WEEK: When the pilot, at takeoff, announces to the passengers crammed in coach: “Enjoy the flight.”

— DO THE MATH: A TV commercial for Popeyes touts a four-piece chicken deal for $5 and a 10-piece meal for $20. Give me the former, twice over, and a soda and I’ll still be $8 ahead.

— ITEM: Walmart is piloting a program at 100 of its stores to allow employees to wear blue jeans and T-shirts of any solid color, according to CBS News. Not that having the traditional blue vest makes it easier to find an employee – because you never can find one now.

— MISUSED WORD OF THE MONTH AND YEAR AND CENTURY AND MILLENNIUM: Said by a caller to a sports talk radio show: “The Sixers are killing me. Literally killing me.” Well, in that case, someone please call an ambulance.

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