“We cannot allow our brand to be abused”

Originally posted on November 13, 2008.

What “brand” is that?

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brand. The greed of the King “branders” was one of the earliest, and is still one of the most popular, posts on LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION®, and it’s rearing its really unbecoming head once again in light of “the sudden wave of T-shirts, posters and other merchandise depicting the civil rights leader alongside Barack Obama”:

Isaac Newton Farris Jr., King’s nephew and head of the nonprofit King Center in Atlanta, said the estate is entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees — maybe even millions.

“Some of this is probably putting food on people’s plates. We’re not trying to stop anybody from legitimately supporting themselves,” he said, “but we cannot allow our brand to be abused.”

Their BRAND?  Wow — in 40 years from “I have a dream” to “”We cannot allow our brand to be abused.”

As the legend on the image at right says, “that change is gonna come.”  Bills, checks and credit cards gonna come, too.

Is that really the Promised Land?

Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

5 thoughts on ““We cannot allow our brand to be abused”

  1. Thus does tinge things with greed, doesn’t it? I could understand going after specific things that are legitimately King’s intellectual property or the property of the King Center, but this is a bit much.

    Speaking of which, doesn’t this effort to “protect the brand” actually HURT the King brand?

  2. Sorry to double-comment, but another thought occurred to me. I could certainly see the King family going after people who abused King’s legacy or image in some way. Say, for example, if a politician who favored policies opposite to King’s attempted to create campaign merchandising featuring their images together. But going after historical researchers and documentary makers damages the King legacy far more than it helps.

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