Here’s the marketing outrage of the year. The Port Authority of New Jersey and New York has changed the name of the new signature building at the 9/11 terrorist strike from “The Freedom Tower” to “WTC I.”
Why? Because the word “freedom” makes it hard to sell, they say. They are trying to find tenants for the 1776 foot office/monument, and its tough sledding. But the rumor has it that China has popped for about three floors. Did China insist on the change? Why should they object? Are they afraid of the word? Or of the concept?
To me, “WTC I” invokes sad memories. It makes me think of bad, past days. Dark days of heroism, grief, and, yes, terrorists. But “Freedom” is inspirational and looks forward to days of light, progress and joy.
The old Twin Towers were not a raging success. I don’t think their occupancy was ever that great; I don’t know why. Maybe the new building will have a curse on it, and be hard to rent no matter what name it bears. If I were a salesman for the project, I know I’d rather be selling freedom than a tombstone.
There will be a brief chapter in my new textbook called “Courageous Marketing.” It will cover brands that survived the recession by plowing forward. It will describe the guts of taking uncertain paths. It will honor those who are single minded, despite pressure to diversify. It will not include the chicken-hearted politically correct sycophants like the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York.
The climate these days is to decry the greedy capitalists. The ones who make profits on the backs of the needy unfortunates. But they’re the ones who take risks for freedom, the brave people who aren’t afraid to step up with pride and say, “This is what I stand for. Want a piece of it?”