Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Astro turf, Astroturfing - What Does It All Mean?

We all know how words can have different meanings and that many words come into existence because of an invention or a product brand name - eg. hoover entered the English vocabulary as being another term for vacuum cleaner. Every industry, indeed every hobby, has its own vocabulary and glossary of terms - for example, if you're a fan of 9 ball pool, you'll understand the terms bank shot, balkline and carom.

As mentioned in a previous article, we have our own Artificial Grass Glossary so that people can better understand some of our terminology. That's where you'll see an explanation of "astro turf".

Written this way ... AstroTurf ... it refers to a registered trademark for a plastic grass product developed in the sixties and made famous by its installation at the Texas Astrodome.

Written this way ... astro turf ... it is now generally used and accepted as referring to any generic type of artificial grass product, irrespective of brand, etc. (The analogy here is with hoover and vacuum cleaner)

For more information go to the AstroTurf page on Wikipedia.

Having said that, there's also the term 'astroturfing' which has a completely different meaning. It's used (mainly in the USA) when referring to an advertising or PR campaign (personal, commercial or political) where the people behind the campaign want to disguise their efforts as being independent public reaction to something or someone. Essentially, faking popular 'grassroots' opinion. To convey the 'fake' and 'grass' elements from the idea, former US Senator Lloyd Bentsen found 'astroturfing' the ideal word when he first coined the phrase.

So if it's some artificial grass for your back garden that you're after, you'd be well advised NOT to talk about astroturfing or someone might think you're on a propaganda trail!