Thursday, December 13, 2007

A point guard named Burger King

We’ve become accustomed to the naming rights sell-off game.

So now Paul Allen is auctioning off the naming rights to The Rose Garden.


Allen, already a billionaire many times over, is hoping to reap millions by putting another corporate name in our faces.

Why are naming rights so valuable in marketing?

• We, the public, are forced to mouth the words “Wells Fargo Arena” (or Frito Lay, or Nike, or Adidas) every time we refer to the venue.

• The name gets mentioned repeatedly in the press. Every sports story, every sports broadcast, carries at least one mention.

• The “Rose Quarter” district, much of it belonging to the public, becomes the “Big Corporate Name” district.

• Freeway exit signs, again, owned by the public, become virtual billboards that we the people will receive zero compensation for.

We’ve seen the sell-outs take place around the country in less proud cities than ours.

But it’s here in Portland too. It started in the public sector where the proudly named Civic Stadium became a name-ad for Portland General Electric, PGE Park.

Now the Portland parks bureau is hiring a full-time sponsorship salesperson. Nike logos are on park basketball courts. Pepsi logos are on community center scoreboards. Piece by piece, the cash-starved public commons is being commercialized and privatized — and the public has grown increasingly accepting.

Of course several of us skeptics have suggested jokingly that Portland make the big re-naming leap and sell off “Portland.” Change the maps and road signs and call the place “Starbucks” or “Wal-Mart” or “Pepsi-Town,” all in exchange for a few million each year. Twenty years from now, we may all be Starbuckians or Pepsians.

But back to Allen and his Trail Blazers, who, according to The Oregonian, lost $25 million last year (the front office disputes the number but not the red ink).

Here’s a way to get in the black, Paul. Why not sell off the names of the players? Why does Brandon Roy have to be “Brandon Roy” or LaMarcus Aldridge “LaMarcus Aldridge” when they could be “Wells Fargo” and “Burger King”?

Think of the great product names that you could slap on a star point guard for a cool million or two. “Key Bank,” “Frito Lay,” “Kettle Chips,” and “Fred Meyer,” “Chevrolet Malibu” are just a few that come to mind.

Game commentary would be peppered with brand mentions: “Fargo passes into Frito who dribbles over the Wild Oats mid-court line. Lay to Burger. He fakes. A high lob into Kettle. He swings right with a hook over Chevrolet (previously known as Kobe Bryant). It’s up and in! Rip Diet Coke!”

Come’ on, Paul, you haven’t even turned the ignition on in your money machine.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home