One year after the killing of Usama bin Laden, the U.S. Government has declassified some of the materials seized during the raid on his compound. The media had earlier reported that the terrorist leader was concerned that his organization’s brand had become tarnished by its association with attacks on noncombatants. CNN gave this account last April:
Bin Laden well understood that al Qaeda’s brand name was in deep trouble, in particular, because the group and its affiliates had killed so many civilians. …. So badly tarnished had the al Qaeda brand become that bin Laden noodled with changing the name of his group. In an internal memo, bin Laden pointed out that “[President] Obama [says] that our war is not on Islam or the Muslim people, but rather our war is on the al Qaeda organization. So if the word al Qaeda was derived from or had strong ties to the word ‘Islam’ or ‘Muslims,’ or if it had the name ‘Islamic party’ it would be difficult for Obama to say that.”
A recently declassified transcript of an audiotape seized during the raid documents bin Laden’s trademark concerns. The following transcript was translated by the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, located in Monterey, California. Continue reading
What’s in a name?
According to Shakespeare, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. But Shakespeare never worked on Madison Avenue, and he did not study branding.
Businesses have long understood the importance and financial value of brands. According to a 2012 study by the branding experts at Interbrand, COCA-COLA is worth about $78 billion (that’s billion with a “B”), followed closely by APPLE. Remember, we’re talking about only the brands, not the inventory, manufacturing plants, warehouses, and other tangible “things” that stand behind those trademarks.
Businesses have also understood the occasional need for re-branding. When Philip Morris USA figured out that its tobacco products were tarnishing the reputation of its KRAFT and other non-tobacco lines, it changed its corporate name and logo to ALTRIA. When AIG realized that its acceptance of a federal bailout in 2008 was hurting its retirement and financial subsidiaries, it re-branded them as SAGEPOINT FINANCIAL and VALIC.
Social activists may consider themselves above the dull sublunary world of commerce, but in fact they are often its most apt students. Continue reading
Filed under Law, Politics
Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln takes history seriously. While some of the details may be contrived – there is no record of black Union Army soldiers being assigned to greet the Confederate commissioners en route to negotiate a peace treaty – the film for the most part follows fact scrupulously. Much of the dialogue is based on contemporary letters and journalistic accounts.
Spielberg’s obsession with historical accuracy extends even to background.
In two scenes featuring General Grant, viewers will notice standing behind him the silent, striking presence of an American Indian in the uniform of a Union Army officer.
(Parker, left, in film)
He is not there for setting. The man depicted is Ely Parker, a lawyer, engineer, life-long friend of Grant, and full-blooded Seneca, whose life story would justify a movie of its own.
It deserves telling.
Trademark practitioners and junk food addicts (two groups whose ranks often overlap) are closely watching the bankruptcy of Hostess Brands, Inc. and the liquidation of its assets, including its famous TWINKIES brand.
Will a qualified buyer emerge to purchase the brand, and to ensure that TWINKIES — like PAN AM and ZENITH — remains alive, if only in some shrunken, transformed existence?
Or will TWINKIES go the way of all flesh, to that trademark graveyard populated by the likes of ATARI, BORDERS, CIRCUIT CITY, and TOWER RECORDS; marks once famous and ubiquitous, now lost, and by the wind grieved, ghosts which will never come back again? (Pardon, Thomas Wolfe.)
In the past, those were the only choices for brands of failed businesses. But in recent years, a new, dubious industry has emerged to offer a third choice. Companies like Strategic Marks of Irvine, California, identify lost marks and try to revive them without the authorization of their erstwhile owners. Most see these marks the way the Coroner of Oz saw the Wicked Witch of the East, as “not merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.” But to Strategic Marks and its audacious founder Ellia Kassoff, these marks have an afterlife. They see them the way Miracle Max saw Wesley, the hero of The Princess Bride: “only mostly dead.” And as Miracle Max explained: “There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.”