An article on a recent Australian by-election reported that corflutes associated with one of the candidates had been defaced. The captioned photo alongside showed the dismayed candidate looking at the altered portraits of himself with moustache and heavy spectacles on a set of free-standing election boards (corflutes), a graphic illustration of the now established (second) meaning of the word – at least in the context of political campaigning. Corflute is actually a trade name for a double-sided board with a corrugated layer in between, made of plastic rather than paperboard so that it’s stiff and relatively weather-proof. It’s easy to print on, good for displaying detailed information and high-quality photographs, and lends itself to the short-term needs of politicians, real-estate agents and auctioneers who wish to make a visible mark on the neighbourhood. This extension of the meaning of corflute to refer to the actual signage is rather dismal news for the trademark holder, when its application to a specific type of corriboard is obscured in the process. Yet many a trademarked name suffers this fate over the course of time – from biro to hoover to zipper – to become a household or neighbourhood word. But when corflute promotions are superseded by phalanxes of rotating digital advertisements along the streets, they will at least be harder to deface.
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