Tuesday, August 24, 2010

If Livestrong Is A "Brand," What About The Red Cross?

Who's gotten the worse part of the deal with Livestrong.com, Lance Armstrong, or Demand Media, the spam-site meisters who own it? Armstrong has essentially rented the name of his foundation to Demand, turning a cancer charity into a third tier health advice "brand." Demand, meanwhile, is just hoping that Armstrong doesn't wind up in court, or worse, over the doping allegations.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned much in the (justified) arrows shot at Demand Media is just how distasteful Deamnd's constant repetitions of the words "Livestrong brand" are. Marketing speak has been taking over the culture for a long time now, and it's time to draw some distinctions here. Genuine non-profits have name recognition, like "brands." But the value of that recognition comes from the fact that their names are associated with public service. Try on for size "the Amnesty International brand."

Sticks in your throat doesn't it? That's the rub with the good name that a genuine public interest organization has built built up: it's only worth something as long as it doesn't get sold.