Monday, January 10, 2011

It Is Time, Cleveland featured a story by Jerry Crasnick on the current state of the Cleveland Indians. While Crasnick's article did list some reason for optimism, the overall feel of the piece was that the team has lost a bit of the market there in Cleveland. Attendance was down again and was near the bottom of the American League pile last year as the team had its second 90+ loss season in a row. While the loss total may be part of the attendance issue and the economy the rest of it, it's time for the team to enter a brand new day. How can they do that? Change the team's name.

It's time. The whole "Indians" thing along with the Chief Wahoo logo is insulting on several levels. Several will say that the argument for keeping the name is continuity. This Fan would agree with that for just about every team except this one. The problem with the team name is that it is not politically correct and it hurts a portion of our society. Seriously, what if the team's name was the Italians and the logo was a Don WOPPO? Wouldn't that be insulting? Because of this misfortune, loyal fans who want to hang on to their loyalty are forced to be defensive. And all of that put together makes the "Indians" impossible to sell and market correctly.

Bob Feller is dead and can't get mad at anyone. A portion of the city will be upset by the change. But, there can be a major marketing and PR event to rename the team and have contests for the name and logo. This is sure to drum up interest and put the team in the news at a time when fiscal sanity is forcing the team to lie low in acquiring talent. There are lots of creative ways to turn this brand around and make it alive again.

This is a moribund team in a highly depressed area struggling to keep a muddy brand alive and viable. That isn't ever going to happen with that team name. Sure, it's easy for this outsider to push these ideas. The Fan hasn't spent his life living and dying with the Indians. That's a fair point. But the Fan is a realist and the marketing and image aspects of teams are of interest to this observer. More than one post has been devoted here to improving team images and branding. It's important.

In this day and age, all media has to be put in play to sell anything. In order to do that, a clean brand needs to be presented that everyone can rally around. The "Indians" no longer cuts it and its mascot and logo is not marketable or even humane. Sure, this Fan rebels against our PC world too. But sometimes, right is simply right. And removing this stench from Cleveland is the right thing to do. It's time, Cleveland. In fact, it's long overdue.

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