Edmonton Eskimos: Brand Value vs. Social Values?
The Edmonton Eskimos (EE) were a highly popular Canadian Football League (CFL) franchise. As board chair, Janice Agrios faced growing accusations of insensitivity with escalating calls to change the Eskimos’ name. For example, Dr. Norma Dunning, an Inuit writer and scholar, described the name as a “slanderous, outdated, and unnecessary” reference to Inuit people (Caldwell, 2020). Similarly, Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, wrote, “This issue is about our right to self-determine who we are on our own terms. We are not mascots or emblems” (Caldwell, 2020). Agrios, the team’s first female board chair, knew a name change risked valuable brand equity and might upset its passionate fan base. She also knew the team’s highly recognizable EE logo increased the team’s distinctiveness and memorability (Dewhirst, 2020; Jones, 2020a). Pressure was mounting on the board to make a risky brand decision.
1. Evaluate how changing a controversial brand name affects various potential stakeholder groups.
2. Examine how a controversial brand name can generate brand avoidance.
3. Evaluate the potential brand equity of a controversial brand name.
4. Contrast cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation between two brands of similar offerings.
5. Devise a branding approach for a sports franchise that uses a valuable name that is considered by some stakeholders as controversial.