Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Name Game

[Corporate PR] Watch out. She's gonna blow!!!!

Yeah, well. It all began when EnergySolution's name went up on Larry Miller's event venue across from Gateway. Forget the Mormon church’s support of Prop. 8. If anything humiliates me about living in Utah, it's being forced to utter the name of a nuclear-waste company in conjunction with a Jazz game or concert taking place there. Let’s just say, I’m not a good sport nor am I in tune with it. In fact, I don’t think I’ve darkened the building’s glowing doorstep since the name change.

But then international mining, resource-extracting Rio Tinto decided slap its name on the soon-to-be-relocated Utah Natural History Museum. A London-based mining company that rips up the earth to sniff out aluminum, coal, borates, copper, iron ore, gold, silver and diamonds is now in bed with a repository for local butterfly collections, dinosaur bones, rock collections and American Indian moccasins. Go figure. Drunk with that PR victory, the name Rio Tinto will now adorn the new Real soccer stadium for the next 15 years.

People will tell me to suck it up, I know. It’s pretty much the way of the world. I mean Obama gave his DNC acceptance speech from Denver’s Invesco Field. Not long after the speech, the global investment firm posted a 21 percent profit drop in the third quarter.

Mile High Stadium was a better name; not only does it roll off the tongue better but Denver will likely not lose its altitude. Truly, I’m surprised the folks in Denver let that name change fly.

So you have to hand it to the good people of San Francisco. After Candlestick Park become 3Com Park, few could bring themselves to call it that. Then Monster Cable bought the naming rights to make it Monster Park. Voters passed an initiative there that calls for the name to revert to Candlestick Park when Monster Park expires in 2008. But it’s all for naught since the 49ers are planning a new park, and they’ll no doubt name it after the multinational corporation that signs the biggest check.

Whatever happened to businesses just supporting the home team and being content to have their name on a program or a donor wall? How did it come to this? How did we let it happen?

And, why, you may ask, am I gonna blow? I just received a press release from a PR company by the name of “Love.” A name which suggests warm and fuzzies to start with. And the release says a nice company has donated $25,000 to The Children’s Center, a Salt Lake City nonprofit that provides mental health care to young children and their families. The donation helps the center come within $200,000 of a major fund-raising goal. So it must be a really good company, right?

But it’s ATK Launch Systems, you know the $4 billion defense contractor that builds rocket motors near Brigham City? It’s the same company a whistle-blower implicated in a Nov. 4 New York Times article for selling faulty flares that put U.S. soldiers at risk. Now, a week later, a donation.

Question for you, ATK, if you just wanted to stanch the bad publicity of your faulty flares, why didn’t you donate the $200K The Children’s Center needs to meet its goal? There’s a war going on and your industry would seem to be recession proof. So you probably got the dough. What’s more, you could get naming rights. Just think: The ATK Launch Systems Children Center. (Jerre Wroble)


  1. Ya know what you can do when corporate branding takes over a building? Call it by the old name. I was out of the country for 4 months when the Delta center became Radium Stadium, so I wasn't around for the hoopla. I still call it the Delta center, and I always will. Rio Tinto stadium? Nope it's Real stadium or, as I like to call it, Sandy's Mistake. Just because a company buys the rights to a stadium doesn't mean you have to refer to it like that.

  2. The football stadium in Denver is "INVESCO Field at Mile High Stadium" so they kept the name.

    Oh, and the "Delta Center" was a corporate name.


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