Why we can’t use Emerald Coast International for the New Airport Name

by October 20, 2009 • 18 comments

Panama City Airport

A few weeks back a new name was chosen for the new airport: Northwest Florida Panama City International Airport.  And while this name in particular certainly did not excite the imagination of many local officials, locals AND readers of PCBDaily.com there was another immensely popular name that failed to make it through the selection process.  The naming of our new airport Emerald Coast International seemed to fall victim to legal issues and infringed trademark laws and branding efforts long underway by others in the area, around the country, and around the world.


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With no few than several hundred votes of approval, the name Emerald Coast International won over the hearts and dreams of many locals, public officials and people in general that have had their hands in the developmental pot of the new airport in Panama City (or Beach 😉 ).  There was an overwhelming positive response for that name here on PCBDaily, with several claiming it proudly as “their” suggestion.  It was the clear favorite.

In the special called Airport Authority meeting two weeks ago the new name chosen wasn’t anything that was suggested, per sea, but it selected based on variables that seemed consistently popular with the suggestions (more on that in another post!).  Northwest Florida Panama City International Airport is the new name of the new airport.  But, I digress.

One of the reasons the name Emerald Coast International Airport cannot be used is because the words Emerald Coast have too many potential future trademark conflicts with other organizations in Florida, around the country and around the world. Talking to Dawn Moliterno, President of the Walton Area Chamber, she was telling me of all the other areas that Emerald Coast is applicable (and is reflected by marketing efforts), including south Florida (on the west side of the peninsula), North Carolina (Emerald Isle, etc.) and Ireland (this was mentioned before in comments).

The other reason it was advised against were regarding branding conflicts.  The Okaloosa County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s brand is Emerald Coast (specifically Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast).  And, as explained to me very recently, confusion in branding regarding different location and very similar name is not good for anyone.  If you disagree, that’s cool, explain yourself in the comments below.

The bottom line is that the staff attorney for the Airport Authority recommended against pursuing the name Emerald Coast International Airport for “legal” reasons and the name was discussed no further.

I will say there has been quite a bit of rather public disappointment in the selection of the new name, which perhaps will be revisited soon, but more on that later this week.

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18 Comments

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1 Joe October 23, 2009 at 11:12 am

Ought to change the name of Panama City while we’re at it. Most people think I’m in Central America.

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2 Jason Koertge October 23, 2009 at 11:22 am

haha, you are so right, Joe!

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3 bill thomas October 23, 2009 at 11:29 am

Please remember that when Southwest went into Ft. Myers the new name of their airport is “Southwest Florida”. I am sure that the name “Northwest Florida Panama City International” was selected for marketing reasons only for the new airline. It does not identify the beauty of our location but it does help to identify the location when somebody is searching for a airport to get here.

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4 John October 23, 2009 at 11:37 am

as much as I fly, I just know I am going to get routed to the canal zone someday…

ok, because the attorney said so.

I like Shakespeare’s suggestion….

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5 JeffM October 23, 2009 at 1:52 pm

To me the “Northwest” is extraneous in that it does not clarify the location/identification of the airport. The words “Panama City Florida” (in whatever order) do that nicely.

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6 tommy g October 23, 2009 at 2:58 pm

sounds to me the lawyer had something to gain from this!!!!

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7 Mike P October 24, 2009 at 10:07 am

You can call it Uncle Joe’s Chicken Shack and International Airport for all I care. The real keys to success for Northwest Florida, Panama City Beach and the surrounding areas is to get the major airlines flying direct flights from major metropolitan areas and reasonable fares. I am very happy that Southwest has signed up to fly in/out of the new airport, but only committing to four direct city connections is a bit of a disappointment. Hopefully they will expand this or other airlines will fill in the gaps.

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8 Mark Ante October 24, 2009 at 12:00 pm

ONLY FOUR DIRECT FLIGHTS IS A DISAPPOINTMENT? I am ecstatic that Southwest has committed to 4 direct flights! What do you expect, PFN to become like ATL overnight? I guess if you won a $200,000,000 lottery jackpot you would be “disappointed” about having to pay the taxes!? Not me! I was taught to BE HAPPY when good things happen. Those 4 cities will increase our (Locals) options for travel, especially when you factor in connections from those 4 cities. Also, the people in those 4 cities will be able to get to and from Panama City easily and more importantly, economically which WILL increase our tourism. An economic engine is exactly what this airport was intended to be. I bet, if truth be told, you were against the airport relocation from the start and this good news is just too much for your negative brain to process!

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9 Jason Koertge October 24, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Actually, it is 8 direct flights from 4 destinations. right now we only service ONE regular destination. This is enormous.

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10 Rob October 24, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Unfortunately, “Northwest Florida” is also already being used in branding efforts in Walton & Okaloosa Counties.

Okaloosa-Walton Community College recently changed its name to Northwest Florida State College, and Okaloosa Regional Airport recently changed its name to Northwest Florida Regional Airport.

I’m afraid that if Panama City insists on having “Northwest Florida” as part of its name, it will only cause confusion among travelers. Think about it — doing a search engine query will overwhelm people, and only cause problems when trying to find the right airport.

Why can’t they just call it Panama City International Airport????? People associate “panama city” and “panama city beach” as one entity anyways…

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11 Mike P October 24, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Mark – take your medicine and go back to sleep. Wow – such hostility from a “happy” person! We need more than four direct destinations to really increase tourism. As I said, perheps the other airlines will bring more direct flights.

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12 Jason Koertge October 24, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Mike, again, we have to remember that right now we are being directly serviced by one area. When the new airport opens, we will multiply that by 4. I agree with you that in the long run we need to have direct service from more than 4 locations, but 4 is great to start out with.

Plus, we have to remember, Southwest will not be the only airline that comes to our new airport. The Atlanta folks will still need to get down here. The nice thing about SWA coming here is that they will keep the prices down on other airlines.

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13 Mike P October 25, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Exactly my point – thank you!

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14 Richard October 25, 2009 at 6:26 pm

I really do not like the name, but think we need to get on with it and quit wasting time lamenting not getting a name we like. We should focus on promoting it, signing up additional airlines, determining if we need to provide bus transportation to and from the airport, etc.

One question, not to be too OCD, but would not correct grammar require a comma after Northwest Florida?

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15 Maureen October 27, 2009 at 6:53 am

You know, there are some who would gripe if they were being beaten with a velvet rope. A new airport with a new uptown sounding name, a new air carrier where your bags fly for free, oodles of new visitors (you know there will be) and yet, some want to find a negative somewhere in the mix. Smile folks.

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16 Palazzo Bob October 27, 2009 at 7:10 am

Political correctness by spineless politicians and lawyers! Did anyone ever consider that it hardly ever rains at PFN? There is a rain cell over the new location most every summer afternoon!!!

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17 John October 27, 2009 at 7:34 am

So we already have a Northwest Florida airport? The first one (Okaloosa) is now Northwest Florida Regional Airport and ours is Northwest Florida Panama City International Airport. How stupid is that? Richard, I think they would read like this, with a hypen: Northwest Florida – Regional Airport and Northwest Florida – Panama City International Airport. While we’re at it, why not Northwest Florida – Pensacola International Airport? I still think we should call it the Hathaway International Airport. Everyone will know where that is, right? Just like the stupid name for the new bridge over St. Andrews Bay. Oh well, sounds like the lawyer was too busy with wetland issues to register the Emerald Coast name which makes me wonder where our new ad agency was during all this.

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