Pelicans Execs Say Rebranding Was Essential To Building Relevance In Local Markets
While a change in nickname and colors for the Pelicans "may be secondary to the actual performance of the product on the court, it’s also a carefully crafted plan to separate the team's past from its present," according to Ted Lewis of the Baton Rouge ADVOCATE. Such makeovers "are rare in major professional sports, especially when the team has been in a location for a decade." But New Orleans-based Peter Mayer Advertising President Mark Mayer said, "From my perspective, the rebranding of the team away from the Hornets was absolutely essential. Everybody knew the team that was brought in from Charlotte wasn't 'our' team and the name wasn't particularly relevant to the local audience." Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha said, "We wanted to get something that was important locally, and we kept coming back to 'Pelicans,' because it is our state bird and is a barometer for the environmental health of the Gulf South after the oil spill." While Pelicans management is "certainly trying to sell the nickname, only 'New Orleans' graces the jersey, making the team one of only three in the league whose uniforms use exclusively the city name." ESPN.com’s Paul Lukas said that it was “'very odd' that 'Pelicans' isn’t on the jerseys, plus the lettering on the front is smaller than that of the names on the back." However, Chicago-based Gameplan Creative Founder & CEO Tom O’Grady "praised the 'clean' look of the Pelicans uniforms." O'Grady also said that the team "was doing the right thing in not getting 'too cute,' with its logo and auxiliary units" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 10/30).
NOT EVERYBODY IS A FAN: The Pelicans nickname certainly will not conjure up the same controversy as the Redskins name, but one national NBA analyst may be staging his own personal boycott. During a preview of the NBA season on TNT's pregame show last night, conversation turned to the Pelicans, causing Charles Barkley to say, "That team from New Orleans. I refuse to say that silly nickname. I'm not saying that name!" ("NBA Tip-Off," TNT, 10/29).