Washington Redskins To Change Name, TV Marketers' Pressure At Work

Washington’s NFL football team’s logo  and nickname are going away. One good bet: The team will probably keep one word of their nickname: red.

Seven years ago, team owner Dan Snyder said he would “never” change the name. Now, after PepsiCo, FedEx, Nike, Bank of America and others in quick succession said they would drop all their advertising/marketing commitments, things have changed.

Social protests of inequality and well as decades-ago “slurs” as nicknames have taken their toll. But it’s money that talks. Tackling, rushing and blocking -- not so much.

The “red” part? Lots of trademark names were registered recently, and in the past, for the Washington team when the issue has come up. “Red Wolves” and “Red Tails” are popular right now. The team’s owner has always been partial to the “Warriors” moniker.



One Washington team follower, Philip Martin McCauley, has trademarked many potential names through the years.

In 2013, Snyder didn’t have the pressure from corporate sponsors. But amid visible protests of social-inequality concerns, brand marketers have been sensitive to public perception of what content their advertising/marketing is backing.

That said, changing a longtime “brand” name can be an ordeal -- for the team and for marketers.

All this brand nervousness is piled on a big volatile, advertising market -- where many are looking for high-rated sports TV programming to save the day for major broadcast and cable TV operations in light of pandemic disruptions.

Major League Baseball, NHL, and NBA -- starting this summer -- and then the NFL in the fall, are hoping to reverse all this. 

And then it will get more complicated.

When the shorten NBA season gets going (hopefully), players will have the right to display 28 different messages on the back of their uniforms, instead of their names. They include Black Lives Matter, I Can’t Breathe, Say Their Name, Listen to Us, Ally, Vote and Anti-Racist.

All this will need to meld with TV commercial messages on the big screen. Sports-related TV advertising creatives are already mulling how all this will look. And more importantly, how viewers/consumers will engage via all public platforms -- not just on social media -- but perhaps with Zoom-added shouts, cheers, boos or shrugs of shoulders.

It’s time not to drop the ball.

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