As a sports fan, you always want to see your team make it to the championship. Just getting to the game is good for community morale as well as local businesses. For fans of the New Orleans Saints, some of this goodwill and joy has lost its luster as the NFL and some members of Louisiana are locked in an ugly PR battle over two words – Who Dat. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the phrase, it has been the rallying cry of the Saints and their fans. It was also prominently displayed in the Super Dome following their NFC championship win.
Yes, there are other two-word phrases that are much worse, so why the focus on these two? One word answer – trademark – read merchandising. With the Who Dat craze swirling around the state, local shop owners have been hawking shirts with the phrase on it. That was until the NFL sent out cease and desist letters citing a 1988 trademark registered by the Saints. Well those letters have been met with angst from these shop owners and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal who is looking into pushing a lawsuit against the NFL over the ownership of the phrase.
This is an unfortunate incident for a region that is still looking for recovery and its first Lombardi trophy. With less than a week to the big game, let’s follow the spirit of Arik Hanson’s new series of posts, and offer a solution where both parties come out with a semblance of a smile on their face.
There is no question that the merchandising of the Super Bowl and the teams involved are big business. While I see the business side of maintaining trademarks and profiting from the use of these marks, a public battle with small businesses in this economy does not look good. Why not look to partner with the state and offer a licensing deal for the phrase, with a minor catch. Instead of adding funds to the league war chest, the money raised via any licensing of the phrase would go to charities throughout New Orleans.
An effort like this would not only offset the negative press that has been garnered of late but also help build a stronger community. Imagine the money that could be raised if the Saints were to lift some hardware on Sunday?
What do you think about the situation? Who Dat or Who Not?
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