[Cache – #119]
As an Ottawa boy, I can tell you it was a great thing when Ottawa lost its CFL football team in the 1990s. Many Ottawans likely did not share this point of view. But I lived in Ottawa for 14 years, and only once did the Rough Riders manage to eke out more wins than losses in a single season. Pair that impressive record of futility with 14 years of day-to-day worries over whether the team would go broke, and I was exhausted. And they were better off dead.
Unfortunately they came back from beyond the grave, reincarnated as the Ottawa Renegades. Who fairly promptly went broke. And now we have another team ready to take a kick at the can (more like the bucket), the newly-named Ottawa RedBlacks.
For all the good this name will do the team, you may as well call them the Ottawa Walking Dead. If ever a team needed a name to capture fans’ imagination, it will be the scrappy lot of castoffs who will comprise Ottawa’s roster in its first year and into the foreseeable future. These are the players who’ve been woefully let down by whichever decision-making body came up with a moniker that means nothing of importance to anyone who has ever lived in Ottawa.
Yes, Ottawa’s sports teams do have a history of wearing red, black and white: the Rough Riders and Renegades, the NHL Senators and the OHL 67s. But we are not talking here about the fabled bleu-blanc-rouge of the Montreal Canadiens, or the blue and white of the Leafs, or of the New York Yankees’ pinstripes.
No one cares that this team will wear red and black, no matter that it happened to be worn by the great Rough Rider teams of the distant past. So to embed the team’s colour in a name that can only succeed if people care about the colour is a colossal mistake, an enormous opportunity squandered.
I remember my dad laughing at one of the names that was floated in the run-up to the Renegades’ emergence: the Ottawa Beavers. Well, that wasn’t the right choice then, and it isn’t the right choice now, but from Ottawa’s rich history as a rough-and-tumble logging town, not to mention its present place as Canada’s capital, there were many choices, far better than RedBlacks, that could have – and should have – been made.
Brand: It Ain’t the Logo is now available at all TARGET stores in Canada for Father’s Day
In case you missed it: my short interview on CBC Radio One about IKEA’s horse meat problem.
Also in case you missed it: My BNN interview re. Lance Armstrong’s brand (starts at the 3:30 mark, after the ad).