Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's always something...

This is what happens when well intentioned people dip their toes into the marketing pond.

Gilda's Club in Madison, Wisconsin along with several other regional chapters are changing their name to Cancer Support Community because, according to their executive director,
One of the realizations we had this year is that our college students were born after Gilda Radner passed. As we are seeing younger and younger adults who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, we want to make sure that what we are is clear to them and that there’s not a lot of confusion that would cause people not to come in our doors.
This is a stupid reason to change your organization's name, especially to something generic and purely functional like Cancer Support Community.

There's nothing unique about the new name, nothing memorable, nothing ownable.

Not to mention they're tossing aside the reason they exist in the first place.

A few years after Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989, her husband Gene Wilder and Joanna Bull, Ms. Radner's therapist, helped to found the first Gilda's Club in New York City, as a place where women, men and children living with cancer could build a social support network to supplement their medical care. It's a great and moving story.

Throwing out this story because it's been 25 years since Ms. Radner passed away is ridiculous.

Ford didn't change its name after its founder passed away and the brand is still relevant.

I'm fine if you want to add Cancer Support Community as a modifier to the name the name Gilda's Club. A lot of brands do that.

The directors of the club would do better to make sure people know Gilda's story and use it to attract people to their red door. It's a huge asset to the brand and one they're tossing aside because they don't care enough to make it meaningful.

And that is shameful.

Thanks to my friend Yi Shun Lai for the tip on this one. You can read her thoughts on life, writing and other subjects on her blog, The Good Dirt.


  1. Harv: completely agree with you on this one. My reaction was the same when I heard of the name change. Gilda's Club stands for something. Perhaps to reach a younger audience, the brand needs to be defined in today's terms, but that doesn't mean throwing out such important equity is the answer. What a shame...I almost feel like I lost a close friend. My son and I have faithfully participated in Gilda's annual 10K what will we be running for? Some may say it's only a name, but those of us in the business of branding know the power of name. They missed this one big time!

    1. It's mind-boggling that they would remove such a valuable and core asset to their brand. People gave, ran, and supported the organization because of Gilda. I realize this is not just Madison's club making the decision. It's happening at a national level because of their merger with Wellness Community. Whoever led this rebrand should be charged with branding malpractice for not realizing the power of Gilda's story and image.

  2. Amen. And with the power of influence - and access - that You Tube provides, there's so many powerful reminders out there of what an amazing gift Gilda was - and how brutal cancer is in tearing those gifts from the lives they touch.

  3. Maura, I'm with you. It seems a gross disservice to Gilda's memory. So sad.

  4. Seriously. Yeah, you wouldn't want to educate young people. Why not change the Ronald Reagan Airport to the Just Beiber Airport, or the Will Roger's Institute to the Taylor Swift Institute?