Some viral internet trends don’t quickly fade.
A government organization in Sydney, Australia—Transport for New South
Wales—recently showed it had a sense of humor when it unveiled the name of
its new ferry. Welcome “Ferry McFerryface”:
The decision comes after an environmental research group in the United
Kingdom refused to name a vessel “Boaty McBoatface”
after a naming contest last year, and
Sweden’s MTR Express let social media users crown its newest train “Trainy McTrainface.”
Ferry McFerryFace was actually the second most popular choice, however,
with the most votes going to Boaty McBoatFace, the name of a British
“Given Boaty was already taken by another vessel, we’ve gone with the next
most popular name nominated by Sydneysiders,” said Minister for Transport
and Infrastructure Andrew Constance, the ABC reported.
More than 15,000 suggestions were made in the Name Your Ferry competition
and three of the six new ferries have already been picked by voters: Victor
Chang (Australian heart surgeon), Fred Hollows (ophthalmologist) and
Catherine Hamlin (obstetrician).
The suggested names were considered by a four-person panel comprising of
Australian National Maritime Museum director and chief executive Kevin
Sumption, former NSW Volunteer of the Year Patrick Dodd, NSW Young
Australian of the Year Melissa Abu-Gazaleh and Australian Museum director
and chief executive Kim McKay.
When voting opened Mr Constance urged the public: “Let’s really generate
some of the best names possible.”
NSW’s Facebook post has received nearly 900 shares and more than 1,800
comments—way more than other recent posts on its page—and many social media
users cheered the decision:
This is the greatest thing ever in the history of NSW Public Transport.
Ferry McFerryface pic.twitter.com/c24cAtipnf
— Salty 🕶 (@MsVeruca) November 13, 2017
Ferry McFerryFace is actually a thing now. Is this the hero that 2017 deserves? pic.twitter.com/CmpEEa5XZE
— Maurice Tan (@Pewology) November 13, 2017
However, not everyone was thrilled with the ferry’s new moniker:
I’ll say it. An absolute joke and an insult. To think MUA Delegates worked some years back to have the fleet known as the indigenous class with appropriate names and instead we get Ferry McFerryFace. An insult to the history of the ferries for the sake of a 5 minute laugh #nswpol https://t.co/05a1FKqxfa
— Paul Garrett (@PaulGarrettAU) November 13, 2017
Could someone tell me how Ferry McFerryFace fits into the criteria for the public vote what was Sydney Harbour, arts and culture, or science environment and innovation?
— Mackenzie Price (@mackenziepricee) November 13, 2017
Others said the joke is wearing out its welcome.
I know Australian internet is bad, but is the internet running on an 18 month delay at Transport for Sydney HQ? https://t.co/QO1qulYgBK
— Dr Smith (@theotherdrsmith) November 13, 2017
The Sydney Morning Herald
“It was funny when the Brits proposed Boaty McBoatface. It was still funny
when the Swedes used Trainy McTrainface. Sadly the joke is wearing thin now
though, and Ferry McFerryface just doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily,”
one Facebook user wrote.
Australia is also no stranger to the trend: In June, a racehorse called
“Horsey McHorseface” won the country’s
Arthur Thompson Memorial Maiden Plate in its maiden race.
Though you might think that the story serves as another cautionary tale for
PR pros thinking of opening up naming to online audiences, NSW Public
Transport put a few restrictions in place when it launched the competition.
Perhaps anticipating a deluge of such inspired – if inappropriate –
suggestions, the NSW government has tightened the leash on the public’s
The names are required to fall into three categories: Arts and Culture;
Connections to Sydney Harbour; or Science, Environment and Innovation.
The vessel’s name might also attract more tourists looking to take selfies
with the social media-famous ferry and post them online—further boosting
the organization’s online reach.
Considering the current social media chatter, the government body’s
communicators show that embracing humor might be just the thing to give
your brand a boost.
What do you think of the decision to embrace “Ferry McFerryface,” PR Daily readers?