Friday, March 11, 2011

Brand niXon

The Washington Post calls the decision by Richard Nixon's think tank to abandon his name an "extreme makeover." The writer of the "Reliable Source" item also asks if the new name doesn't "sound like all those other generic, earnest D.C. institutes/think tanks/NGOs." Yep: Even Woodward and Bernstein's paper thinks dissing Nixon was a bad idea.

In reply to the Post's question, the Center said that it "felt strongly that the new name conveyed what we were about." But if Nixon's name was making the Center's work more difficult, it hasn't said so. If the Center has now adopted a policy perspective that differs from his, its recent statements say otherwise.

Though the Center implied earlier this week that the name change was an automatic consequence of the Center's independence from Nixon's Yorba Linda foundation, I know that to be untrue, and the Center's Post comments about its choice of a new name confirm it.

That leaves the possible and possibly related factors of money (the Center itself has mentioned its "new resources") and the hostility of the former White House operatives now controlling Nixon's foundation.

The Center also says this: "We believe that our new name unifies our existing 'brands' while avoiding confusion with the other two entities." It pains me that my former colleagues, thoughtful experts when it comes to matters of global significance, have been reduced to channeling "Mad Men" and George Orwell. Whatever's going on here, I'm definitely not feeling the unification. As for brand confusion, it doesn't seem to be vexing the proprietors of the many institutions and landmarks bearing Ronald Reagan's name. What the Center Formerly Known As Nixon has done is burn out its brand, and the aroma's not very pleasant.

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