By Mandy Nelson
We’ve racked up another working year and will complete the Year of the Monkey early in 2017. The year 2016 has, I think, gone a bit tits-up. It feels like a Quentin Tarantino-directed movie, what with the Syrian situation, Brexit, Donald Trump, earthquakes, storms, floods and the deaths of musicians who basically held the fabric of the whole universe together. The onus is on me to give it a happy ending by writing a festive Christmas Chimp, surely the appropriate way to communicate in the Year of the Monkey.
That got me wondering why MailChimp is called what it is – because, well, that is how my mind works. I bow to Google, as you do, for the answer to all stupendously trivial questions. I would have been more surprised not to find it. Turns out some dude named Ben Chestnut working for a web development company called Rocket Science cobbled together some leftover scrap code and developed MailChimp in 2007. He said: “We had this philosophy when it came to our web design projects: ‘If all else fails, add a monkey. Clients love monkeys.’ So we called it ChimpMail. Then we learned the domain was taken. So we called it MailChimp.” At this point I developed a strong urge to tell Ben that a chimp is actually a great ape, not a monkey, but I couldn’t find his email address.
MailChimp has a mascot named Frederick von Chimpenheimer IV, or Freddie for short. Ben Chestnut reveals “We really didn’t spend that much time fostering his image or brand or anything. It was our customers and employees who brought him to life and gave him his personality.” I really like this comment because it shows a deep understanding of branding and marketing by that old Chestnut, Ben. He clearly gets that customers actually own the brand, and that brand development is a somewhat interactive process. I’m starting to feel Ben and I are on common ground.
I decide I have nothing against monkeys. Or apes. In fact, my birth year in the Chinese zodiac is the year of the monkey. I ponder whether Ben might also be a zodiac monkey in which case he will supposedly be witty and intelligent with a magnetic personality and is a teeny bit naughty. Monkeys are fast learners and crafty opportunists. Add ambitious and irritable to those traits if you are a fire monkey like me. I now want to fully embrace Ben’s philosophy of ‘add a monkey’ as a mantra for all aspects of my life.
I’m on a roll. I search for munky next and discover American musician James Christian Shaffer, better known by his stage name ‘Munky’, co-founder and guitarist of the nu metal band Korn. His nickname ‘Munky’ is a reference to his feet which resemble monkey’s hands when spread. I think I love him.
So, more is better, right? I search deep and dark, and meet munkey, a sub-species of the human race developed by modern governments to ensure production. These beings demonstrate agression and racism, and political and religious extremism, but make up for their shortcomings by paying taxes. Munkeys see evil, hear evil and speak evil. Munkey seems like the personification of 2016 but I can’t see how he adds anything to Christmas cheer. I uninvite munkey to all seasonal jollification but file him in a secure, dank, mental vault for future reference.
We don’t get a lot of monkeys or great apes in New Zealand outside of zoos, but rare Monkees Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork actually snuck into our country late in November without me noticing, and performed only metres from where I work. They probably even walked down my street. In the spirit of the season, I Googled them too, to see if they have a Christmas song and it turns out they do. Yay! It’s an ancient carol in Spanish and it’s completely charming.
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