Trashing Brands and Other Stuff
It made sense. These companies got into other areas. Cash registers and business machines are out of another century and these companies have moved on.
For example, in the 1970s, my wife, Peggy, and I bought a little Sunfish sailboat made by AMF. Had the conglomerate kept its original name, I would’ve stopped and thought, “Why is a machine and foundry company making a fiberglass boat?”
On the other hand, some changes are incomprehensible. One of the most brilliant men in direct marketing is the legendary Lester Wunderman who, in many ways, revolutionized the business. Out of the blue, its parent, Young & Rubicam of Chicago, summarily changed the name from Wunderman Cato Johnson to Impiric, apparently hoping to drop the stigma of it being primarily a direct marketing agency.
I ran into Lester—going strong in his eighties—happily signing books at a DMA conference. I asked him what the hell this Impiric thing was all about. He simply shook his head in bewilderment. Sixteen months later, the name of the agency was changed back to Wunderman.
The Marshall Field’s Fiasco
The May 4, 2006 edition of Business Common Sense was titled, “Trashing a Brand—Smart or Dumb? Cingular to bite the dust, joining Marshall Field’s and NDL.”
Cingular and NDL weren’t long-time brands that created warm fuzzies in the hearts of their customers. Marshall Field’s—a Chicago fixture for 154 years—is a different story. So offended by the change from Marshall Field’s to Macy’s, 60,000 irate Chicagoans signed an online petition pleading Federated executives to retain the Marshall Field’s name rather than change it to Macy’s.
It turns out, that during this past holiday season, customers stayed away in droves. “Macy’s Learning It’s What’s in a Name” was the title of the Jan. 3, 2007 story in the Chicago Tribune. In the words of Chicago retail consultant Keven Wilder, who lives across from the State Street store, during the lead-up to Christmas, “You could shoot a cannon through there most of the time.”