Insights / branding

Then Turn Left at Willis Tower. Wait! Where is that?

I’m all for sponsorships, naming rights and what not, but when something has become a part of American pop-culture, why mess it up?

To me, the Chevrolet Theatre will always be the Oakdale Thatre. The New England Dodge Music Center– wait? Isn’t that the Meadows? You get the idea and I’m sure many of my fellow Connecticut residents can relate with me. It takes a LONG time – even years – to rename something and get your target audience to remember it. Sometimes, it just never works. Maybe I’m just clinging onto the past, who knows

With that said, the Willis Holdings Group, a Chicago-based insurance brokerage firm, will be renaming the Sears Tower the Willis Tower. The firm announced this earlier this week and it’s bound to irk a lot of Chicagoans. Bold move!

Sears held onto the naming rights until it expired in 2003. Enter the Willis Group who not only plan to move 500+ employees into the building, but they plan to rename it to show their “commitment” to the city of Chicago.

Commitment? The Sears Tower is an iconic, American building that shouldn’t be meddled with. In the PR world, one of the things we often face is the challenge of changing people’s perceptions and, ultimately, people’s behavior. Will renaming the Sears Tower make people get insurance from the Willis Group? I think not. Try renaming the Empire State Building and imagine where New Yorkers would tell you to go. My vote, and advice, is to leave the Sears Tower alone. It’s fine just the way