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For the right price: Naming rights for public spaces always up for grabs July 24, 2013

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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A recent article in The New York Times by Matt Flegenheimer indicated that some of New York City’s iconic subway stations could be renamed if wealthy sponsors are willing to pay the right price. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority made the decision in July 2013, and began detailing rules for possibly renaming public spaces under the organization’s control. The idea is being discussed, Flegenheimer reports, mostly because the MTA could use the money.

If the idea of renaming public spaces for corporations willing to pay makes you feel uncomfortable, you are not alone. Yet, the practice does not need to be entirely tacky. In a review of a new partnership with Levi Strauss and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, Ad Age reports that the 20-year, $220 million deal struck by the two to name a new football park “Levi’s Stadium” makes complete sense. After all, Levi’s has spent more than a century based in the city, is a beloved American brand, and should easily be able to cover the terms of the contract.

Ideal circumstances to sell naming rights of public spaces do not always come around. See the following video to understand the problems that the New York Giants and New York Jets experienced in finding a corporate sponsor to buy naming rights for their new field:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why is selling naming rights of public spaces so risky?

2.  Why do so many consumers dislike this practice?

3.  Why do managers of high profile public spaces sell naming rights? What do they get out of the practice? Moreover, how does this benefit consumers in these spaces?

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