Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Academi? What’s in a name…

Admittedly, Pink Slip has never been all that fond of Blackwater, the “private military” company, other than as blog fodder.

So I don’t know how I missed the story over the winter that the company formerly known as Blackwater, and more recently called Xe Services( a.k.a., the company formerly known as Blackwater), is now called Academi.

(What was I doing on December 12th that was so all-fired important that I missed the article in the WSJ that noted that the new CEO, Ted Wright, wanted to develop an image for the company that is “boring.”)

I guess that original rebranding as Xe, which comes from the chemical Xenon, and sounds kind of outer space-y and futuristic,  didn’t do enough to create a degree of separation from the Blackwater name, which had gotten to be synonymous with shooting up civilians in Iraq and such places.

So, in just a few years they’ve gone from Blackwater – think murky, scary, poisonous snakes – to Xe – think Superman’s uncle from Krypton – to Academi. Which conjures up images of Plato hanging around with Aristotle thinking great thoughts and asking the big questions, questions like what does the average Greco-Roman wear under his toga? And, in their lighter, non-philosophical moments, trading jokes. (Did you hear the one with the punchline “Euripedes, Eumenides.”?)


Sorry, Ted Wright, it’s not boring. Xe (pronounced Zee) Services was boring. Academi is just plain weird and sounds just too think-tanky for a company that’s a lot more do-tanky. Even their logo is book-ish, or at least Kindle page-ish:

It seems like a more appropriate rebrand for Kaplan.

Yes, I know that they do training, but that’s only part of their, ahem, mission.

ACADEMI operates across the security spectrum: ASSESS, TRAIN and PROTECT.

Specifically, we specialize in:

  • Training and support for domestic and international clients
  • Personnel and facility security services
  • Mission support and staff augmentation
  • Risk management and security services consulting
  • Stability support, crisis response and forward base operations
  • Training for civilians, law enforcement and military personnel

A bit more “men of action” than the name Academi implies, no?

The tab for the page where they talk about their instructors reads “Faculty”, members of which are drawn from:

  • U.S. Navy SEALs
  • U.S. Army Special Forces
  • U.S. Army Rangers
  • U.S. Marine Corps
  • Canadian Special Forces
  • SWAT Teams

Take that, you effete posh-degree, ivory tower, ivy-covered walled-in  intellectuals worrying about what angle to pitch your velvet PhD cap for the upcoming academic procession. And take this, too:

Ninety-five percent of all ACADEMI employees are former military or law enforcement.

Publish or perish? Well, at least they’ve got part of it down. And who’s to say that academic regalia can’t come in camo. Why, just the other day in Rome, I saw a tee-shirt that said “Camo is the new black” on it.

Meanwhile, for those who are a bit nostalgia for the old Blackwater, some enterprising lads have opened up shop as Blackwater USA, from whence they peddle Blackwater gear:

Now Blackwater is a global brand that stands for everything Blackwater stood for: excellence, reliability and unfailing commitment to duty and service.

Over the next few months watch for a series of tactical hard, soft and electronic goods designed by the people who have been there and done that. Products, gear, events and ideas that honor your way of life.

Well, I don’t think they’re exactly talking about honoring my way of life here. I am so much more the boring old academy type. Or at least I was before Academi decided to adopt the brand.

No comments: