Doctor's orders? The 'sad, silly' Tronc brand is no more

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Credit: Illustration by Ad Age

The Artists (or something) Formerly Known as, collectively, Tribune Publishing are breathing a sigh of relief today. Their two-year-plus nightmare of being known as Tronc (short for Tribune Online Content) is finally coming to an end, and their company will once again be known as Tribune Publishing, it was announced today. The name change will take effect at the close of the business day on Oct. 9.

We've known this was coming since the summer. In June, when the billionaire biotech entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong announced he was buying the Los Angeles Times from Tronc, he ridiculed the Tronc brand in his remarks to the staff. Times film critic Justin Chang quoted his new boss as calling Tronc a "sad, silly name."

Everybody in the media world has been ridiculing the brand since it was officially unveiled in June 2016. So why change the name now? Well, because Dr. Soon-Shiong not only did the company the great favor of taking the Los Angeles Times off its hands, but he remains the second-largest shareholder of Tronc stock. So his opinion regarding corporate branding carries extra weight.

Some reports had the Tronc board leaning toward abandoning the name even before the L.A. Times sale, but Dr. Soon-Shiong's harsh public comment surely helped the cause.

The same day he visited the L.A. Times newsroom, The Guardian (U.K.) served up a tentative news item with the headline "Tronc to change name back to Tribune Publishing after two years of ridicule."

The Guardian also helpfully cited a particular instance of that ridicule:

Tronc "sounds like the noise an ejaculating elephant makes or, more appropriately, the sound of a stack of print newspapers being thrown into a dumpster," comedian John Oliver said.

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