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.

 

Deconstructing Name Dropping

namedropping1.jpg

Tell me someone on the social web who doesn’t name drop. The whole currency of the social web lies in referencing and mentioning people by name. Name dropping builds perceived value and equity. It’s at the heart of today’s influence measures right or wrong (see write up of Klout), and drives “weblebrity.” So we should look at it.

Is simply associating yourself with someone — even if it’s a fly by — an accurate measure of ability? I think even posing this question is absurd, but it seems to be the way of things right now. People go to conferences, tag each other and check-in with posts, mention casual lunches, and even business deals. Some do it with sincerity (happy to see you!), and some do it in an effort to gain street cred. (I just checked in at Facebook HQ!).

namedropping2.jpg

Let’s be clear, just because you see someone associated with another via a tag or a reference, doesn’t mean there’s a relationship. Nor does it mean that the person who does it should receive credibility. Just because a post is retweeted 20 times doesn’t mean it’s been read or that the ideas are valid (I can back this with data).

When I was on a vacation a year and a half ago, a Twitter follower spotted me at JFK airport between legs of a flight. A brief, pleasant interchange occurred. The tweet was up in five minutes. My wife was mortified!

namedropping3.jpg

Anyone who has attended SxSW knows this event takes name dropping to epic proportions. I personally dread seeing my name come across the Twitter stream. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a real famous person like Mark Zuckerberg at such an event. Really, SxSW embodies all that is wrong with the social web culture, from frat boy parties to vanity contests for the most name drops. At the same time, it is such a powerful networking opportunity, one would be a fool not to go and talk to people in person.

namedropping4.jpg

To me there’s no way to resolve the name dropping issue. It’s so hardwired into everything we do online. Perhaps, in parallel to old school name dropping, to not ever tag anyone would simply mean to live in an online hermitage.

At the same time, I think personally we should devalue name references as a valid measure of influence and stance. At the minimum, I hope after reading this post we’ll take conference tweets and casual mentions with a lot less excitement. And casually mention people with a lot less frequency.

P.S. To be clear, the JFK incident was a rare one. When I walk around in my home town of Alexandria, Virgina — a very blue blooded city — I am sure almost no one wonders who that nerdherder living on the wrong side of the tracks is. They are much more interested to see if the Ragin’ Cajun is in town for a real celebrity citing.

Trackbacks on this post are turned off. This post does not seek to generate in-bound links, instead it will hopefully inspire people to consider the ideas discussed in the context of their own efforts.