Even Obama Thinks the Redskins Should Rebrand

In an interview with the Associated Press, Barack Obama revealed he thinks the Redskins should rebrand. The interview came ahead of an NFL owners meeting here in Washington today. The Oneida Nation is planning a live protest to coincide with the meetings.

One of the big arguments against rebranding is a belief that protestors represent a small, but vocal minority. “I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things,” said Barack Obama.

My original post against the Redskins name created some interesting reactions, mostly from die-hard football fans against the rebrand. The argument that only a few people care about the name caused me to start a Care2 petition to demand that Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell abandon the racist Redskins name.

Almost 8000 people have signed it to date. More than a few, I’d say.

Should a White Guy Care?

Then there was the whole notion that because some Native Americans aren’t offended (while others like the Oneidas are), then I — a white guy — shouldn’t care.

I am going to have to rely on my ancestors who started the Anti-Defamation League on this one. If it’s demeaning, it shouldn’t be said.

Hey, you know what? I get it. The name was less offensive to the general public just ten years ago. But times change. It doesn’t feel right to say the name anymore. It feels like a slur.

In the past the words negro and colored were commonly accepted names for African Americans during the era of oppression. We thankfully evolved beyond that, too. I am sure some African Americans of past generations weren’t offended by it, but most were. They protested, and things changed.

And you know what? Some white folks joined them because they felt racism was wrong.

Do you think the fact that Pee Wee Reese was a caucasian man stopped him from putting his arm around Jackie Robinson in 1947?

The Cost of Rebranding

Money has been cited as a reason not to rebrand, too. Advertising Age estimates it would cost $15 million to rebrand the Redskins. But that does not include how quickly the team would make up the money lost with sales of new brand gear (assuming they do better than the horrific rebranding of the Washington Bullets to the Wizards).

If a little school in Canada can do it, so can Dan Snyder.

The real cost maybe caused by not acting. As a result, Snyder can expect continued animosity, deteriorated brand value, and eventually a larger brand issue for the NFL.

What do you think?

Please sign the rebranding petition if you care.

 

Redskins Need to Rebrand

[Update July 13, 2020: The Washington Football Club to announce the retirement of the Redskins name today. A win for the civil rights team in this crazy year. Original photo taken for WUSA-9.]
The Washington Redskins need to rebrand. The mounting pressure makes it clear, from mainstream media to federal lawsuit, people want Dan Snyder to change the name of his team, often viewed as a racial slur against Native Americans.

To me, the issue has come to a fore. I can not buy any gear, purchase any tickets, or support this team so long as it insists on calling itself a racist name. I will not spend one dollar on Danny Snyder’s football club so long as they are called the Redskins.

This is not an issue of liberal protest. I am a Washingtonian of 20+ years, a Nationals partial season ticket holder, and a regular at many local sporting events. Even the Green Bay Packers CEO came out against the name, calling it derogatory.

The last two times I publicly critiqued brands were BP in 2010 during the oil spill, and Komen for the Cure in 2011-12. I don’t criticize brands often because done frequently as a marketing consultant it creates conflict of interest issues, including a better than thou attitude that doesn’t build a strong reputation. I also know what it’s like to be on the receiving of a post like this.

Know that my motive is personal and as a consumer in the Washington marketplace. If the Redskins were to come to me, offer me tickets or a consulting contract, I would tell then “no thank you.” That’s how strongly I feel about the matter.

Dan Snyder also feels strongly, as he told the USA Today, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps.”

And like so many other issues in the past, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell lacks the foresight to see the conflict the name continues to cause.

That’s an unfortunate polarizing attitude. I think Danny Snyder and the NFL will have to change the name whether they like it or not. It will become increasingly apparent that the Redskins name is bad business. More and more customers will walk no matter how good the team is.

ESPN published a great story showing the negative business effects of Native American names, and how ensuing name changes create increased revenues. Done right, a name change could galvanize the franchise.

Let’s hope Dan Snyder is humble enough to change his words. Somehow I doubt it. Until then, don’t expect to see me wearing burgundy and gold.

What do you think?