Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Risky for BC Liberals to Change Brands But Premier Christy Clark Seriously Considering It

The life of the Party!
BC Premier Christy Clark wants to pursue a new name for the BC Liberal Party - but brand name and marketing experts have serious warnings

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday May 8, 2012

By Bill Tieleman

"Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself."

- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

"We should be considering and actively debating a name change in our party, and I'm glad we're doing it," Premier Christy Clark said last week. "I think we need to have a name for our party that's as inclusive as possible."

But if the BC Liberals do pick a new name they will be breaking new ground.

I can find no record in the last 50 years of a Canadian political party in power for over a decade changing its name before if faced an election.

The only major rebranding for a governing party came when the Saskatchewan Cooperative Commonwealth Federation or CCF became the New Democratic Party while ruling that province in 1961.

But that name change came when the CCF and the Canadian Labour Congress created a new national party called the NDP -- and every provincial CCF wing followed suit -- not because the Saskatchewan government desperately needed an identity change. And in fact, they lost the next election under the NDP banner.

Clark should consider the example of famous brand names like Maple Leaf Foods, Tylenol and Jack in the Box.

These companies all suffered international bad publicity after poisoning deaths but you can still buy their sliced meats, pop their pills or enjoy their hamburgers -- and millions do.

Throwing out a recognized and well-established trademark is at best a risky move and at worst, devastating.

Listen to a branding expert

Global brand research agency Millward Brown has some words of warning for anyone considering a name change.

"In our experience, many brands see an immediate five to 20 per cent decline in sales, and can take years to restore levels, while others are negatively affected only in the short term," Millward Brown states online.

"Name changes often result in a drop in sales, but when the process is done well, sales can hold steady. However, if a poor strategy is followed, a name change puts the brand at risk of losing equity, consumer loyalty and ultimately market share," remarks the company that works with 90 per cent of the world's top 100 brands.

But the brand name problem for the BC Liberals is two-fold -- the 2013 election is definitely in the short term -- and they don't want to "hold steady" or just restore levels back to the 23 per cent voter support they have now, before a name change. They want to double that back to the 46 per cent they took to win the 2009 election!

So the BC Liberal Party is entering new and uncharted territory -- and potentially great political danger in ditching a brand name that successfully won three consecutive elections and almost a fourth between 1996 and 2009.

Dwindling market share

The reasons why Clark is thinking of switching rather than fighting are clear -- the B.C. Liberals are badly losing their market share of voters to competitors.

Their latest grim news came from a Forum Research poll released May 3 that shows the BC NDP at 48 per cent support versus the BC Liberals at 23 per cent and BC Conservatives at 18 per cent.

The NDP gained two per cent since Forum's last poll in April, while the Liberals stayed the same and the Conservatives dropped five per cent,

More ominously, that means the "vote splitting" argument used by Clark against the Conservatives -- that voting for the party led by John Cummins will only ensure an NDP victory -- isn't actually happening.

In fact, some of the Conservative support has bled to the NDP, not the Liberals, perhaps indicating that voters primarily want to be rid of Clark's crew, "free enterprise coalition" be damned.

That's reiterated by results showing that while 59 per cent of Liberal backers want the party to merge with the Conservatives to prevent an NDP victory, just 27 per cent of Conservatives agree.

And the poll also shows that less than one quarter of remaining BC Liberal supporters think the party should change its name before the next election.

(Ironically, a Liberal-Conservative coalition government ruled British Columbia from 1941 to 1951, before it fell apart and was replaced by W.A.C. Bennett's upstart Social Credit Party for the next 20 years.)

Forum's results indicate that while 64 per cent of NDP supporters are "very enthusiastic" about voting for the party, just 35 per cent of BC Liberals feel that way.

The Coco Pops factor

The BC Liberals may want to consider the cautionary tale of Kellogg's Coco Pops cereal in England before making the fateful decision to change names.

As explained by Millward Brown, killing an established brand name can be deadly for sales.

"Some newly named brands are not picked up on or are over looked, while some are flat-out rejected by consumers. Coco Pops, a Kellogg's cereal brand in the U.K., changed its name after 28 years for global consistency, a decision that resulted in equity and market share declines along with strong public protest."

"Kellogg's responded with a television campaign that gave kids the opportunity to vote on which name they preferred -- 90 per cent chose the original name."

"The company listened and changed the cereal back to its original name. Sales increased 20 per cent over the next year," Millward Brown reports.

So changing the BC Liberal name less than a year before the election may be the biggest mistake of all for a party increasingly known for doing the wrong thing.



kootcoot said...

Bill, maybe the circumstances aren't identical but my reading of relatively recent history has a number of cases of name changes or parties assuming a disguise under a new brand.

First there are the fascists in Ottawa right now who went through Reform, Alliance and almost ran with CRAP (Canadian Reform Alliance Party) until one of their more literate members (a small group it would seem) noticed the acronym before finally double crossing the Progressive Conservatives and dropping the Progressive part.

And of course then after Bill Vander Zalm finished off the usefulness of the seemingly eternally dynastic name of Social Credit, Campbell and the same old, same old, right wing coalition of car dealers, lawyers, developers, penny stock swindlers and various sleaze merchants reassembled after stealing the Liberal name from the other Gordon. Under the new name they have managed to rob and pillage the province for over a decade, disguised as Liberals. I really think they should go with the BC Christy Party, think how special the clueless wonder would feel if she managed to win under that banner.

Of course if the people of BeeCee allowed that I would move somewhere, maybe Burma, I understand they are heading towards democracy, rather than towards fascism. I wouldn't be able to bear living in a province knowing I was surrounded by such an awesome degree of idiocy if Christy got herself elected under ANY banner.

Arleigh Chase said...

Bill, I once knew a toddler who believed that he became invisible when he closed his eyes.

Ms. Clark is showing the same kind of weird thinking - and profound contempt for the electorate.

A party that changes its name does not a changed party make, especially if the same, tired, old faces represent the same, tired, old and contemptible policies.

I think we may have to start questioning Ms. Clark's sanity after this suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Figured a comment like that would come in. Obviously from someone who has his own opinions as wrong as they are. (and Bill cut the "fascist" crap allowance). Canada and BC is NOT I repeat NOT a fascist country!

First, and foremost, Christy does NOT have the absolute authority to do that (change the name). It would have to be approved by the membership (constitutional change) at a Convention or special meeting for the purpose. It would not be just a stroke of pen held in her hand.

Second, there are many members that would not want the name changed simply because it would make the current situation even worse than it is (even if its possible).

But let's balance this out.

What exactly is "New" in "New Democratic?" It is the same tired old left wing labour whine, who by the way have their own places at NDP conventions. Guranteed seats.

The NDP has hardly been New.

Party labels? Let's look a few good ones. We'll start with Civic Independents (Mike Harcourt etc.) hardly Independent they were all NDP. But didn't want to be part of the COPE brand. Vision? Split off from COPE and hardly much if a Vision there.

Can even go with Civic New Democrats which didn't last long and they were in competition with COPE.

federal Liberal being "Canada's Natural Party" Give it a rest. The only natural thing about them is what came out of their behinds when Trudeau and later Chretien was Prime Minister

Give it a rest. It hasn't even reached the Convention Policy paper stage.

The BC Liberals will be out of office before that happens.

and when it does, Koot will be complaining against his own kind as the NDP will become government.

Anonymous said...

I think we may have to start questioning Ms. Clark's sanity after this suggestion

Why even waste time on it? Most BC Liberals are not in favour of it,
and many are waiting for Adrian Dix to walk out to his first Press Conference as Premier.

It's only the blindly loyal idiots within the BC Liberals that would insist on a name change.

It's not Christy Clark's decision to make. Period. Full stop.

Arleigh Chase said...

My late father always characterized the type of people Anonymous 4:47 p.m. represents as "The Happy Morons".

If you doubt Canada's fascist behaviour, I suggest you have a look at Kevin Annett's extensive research into the aboriginal genocide this country has visited upon its citizenry. The real horrors of this history have been ignored by mainstream media, except for lame and frankly contemptible attempts at debunking it.

I have absolutely no problem calling Canada a fascist country, except that that word is nowhere near strong enough to convey the horrors that have been perpetrated in its name.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like removing an expired label on a food product and re-stamping the product with a new expiry. Isn't that a crime? No, wait, this is B.C. Liberal territory for 12 more months.
Did I say crime? Sorry, "slime".

Ken in Victoria said...

An MLA suggested that a name change would be like going into the witness protection program. I guess they will ready need protection during the next election from explaning their past sins. They will just say the Liberal Party did that but we are a new party free from sins. Finally, Mrs. Clark does need a mental evaluation and the gentle voters of British Columbia will do just that in the election.

Ken in Victoria said...

I like the comment by a MLA that the name change would be like going in the witness protection program.

Anonymous said...

My late father always characterized the type of people Anonymous 4:47 p.m. represents as "The Happy Morons".

Is it too hard to debate the issues such as an easy to handle one such as this, without getting into personal oblique silly critical labels?

Or is it that this easy to handle subject just too hard for a few to engage in fact based debate?

Anonymous said...

Finally, Mrs. Clark does need a mental evaluation and the gentle voters of British Columbia will do just that in the election.

No need for the personal attacks. It's obvious that the majority of voters have already made up their minds.

Anonymous said...

Hey, as long as we're talking about a name change for the Titanic, here's a suggestion: "Retread Socred." Catchy, right?

Here's their election ad jingle:
If ya don't like B.C. goin' RED,
Give a vote for RETREAD SOCRED!

Anonymous said...

new name going to be BC Coalition Party

Anonymous said...

Fascism: Suppresses opposition and criticism. Controls everything possible, and treats the people harshly.

Perhaps, terrorists, pedophiles and the Taliban, are more appropiate words, than fascist.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget. Harper said, the NDP are Nazi's. I guess those types of names, are only for some politicians to use.

kootcoot said...

Bill, I see you feel "fascist" is kinda harsh, but that's why I don't misuse the term Nazi instead, because that would be wrong, the Nazis were fascists, but with their own added kinks (like anti-semitism, homo-phobia, etc.)

The true meaning of fascism is the seamless welding of the corporate with the government, and when you see what is happening in Canada and BeeCee, how can you deny that is what is happening.

Yes we don't have gulags (those weren't run by fascists of course but socialist/commies - so someone like 4:47 would have to call NDP prisons that) or concentration camps (yet) or an S.S. Though when one watches events like the police riot in Toronto at the G20, one wonders how far off this aspect is. When one thinks of the fact that the US (our best friend and Stevie's model)has about half of the incarcerated in the world with 5% of the population, how far away are we from that, and when are Stevie's new prisons coming, oh that's right, he ain't building any, he'll leave that to the corporations, the other arm of government.

We shouldn't quibble about labels, check out the post at Norm's (Verbal gymnastics? Maybe not)regarding the study of generally agreed on states labeled fascist (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia.)

Then check out the fourteen points that the authors use to define fascism, then you tell me how that compares (or more appropriately, doesn't compare) with what is happening in Ottawa, Victoria and Washington D.C. and then you might understand my use of the word.

BTW, I did my own "stream of consciousness" post about Norms post and the original study/article which can be found at:


People misuse labels all the time, especially Americans who seem to think communism, fascism, Nazism and socialism are all the same thing (of course it doesn't help that the Nazi's real name was the National Socialist Party - see what I mean?)

But anything that helps the plutocracy maintain their hold on power and gather even more wealth works for them.

kootcoot said...

Bill, obviously you are taken very seriously in the bloggosphere (and media) - that's why you are blessed with so many concern trolls (like 4:47, or 7:33 and 7:35, who are likely one and the same)

Let's not address the subject but the style of the debate......personally I feel the time for civility is long past, we are fighting a crowd that has no manners or willingness to compromise or engage in fair discussion.

Obfuscation, secrecy, prorogation, massive police action, media control cronyism, outright theft of the commons, but hey, I may be an evil greedy bastard, but don't call me that, that's not nice!

e.a.f. said...

Changing a name of a political party is somewhat similar tochanging the name of a breakfast cereal. The goods inside are still the same but the box on the outside is different.

We can change the "box" but the politicians & their actions are still inside. I don't think dressing up "the box" is going to change unless you change the ingredients. The current ingredients has made the general public very ill & getting sicker by the minute.

People know spoiled goods & they go find another brand.

Anonymous said...

Sure e.a.f thanks for commentary that does little to educate and provides anything new to a debate that doesn't have much merit anyway (Christy cannnot on her own change the name of the BC Liberals).

Anonymous said...

"People know spoiled goods & they go find another brand."

Nothing new there. They did that in 1991, and again in 2001, and will do the same thing in 2013.

Big deal.

Well it will be when the left wing contributors here have to start fighting their own kind starting in June 2013.

DPL said...

How about "The me first party"

Anonymous said...

Kevin Krueger looks so elegant today vibrating and spewing his hatred. Just like all the other Libs, he can see the writing on the wall. Might as well look the jerk part you are, KK! The Lib party is sinking faster than a cruise ship!

Anonymous said...

DPL suggested The me first party.

Already taken by a sub part of the NDP labour wing in the pzrty

kootcoot said...

To use your terminology, or "To Be Clear," maybe we should take it from someone I'm sure you would admit is (or was, before he started hanging around upside down at the gas station) qualified to speak on the subject, Bill!

""Fascism should more properly be called 'Corporatism' because it is the total merging of corporate and state power."

-Benito Mussolini"

just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Well Koot, you're a bit off base.

So how is it that protestors can disrupt the rights overs, and destroy property freely? Would you like protestors on your street blcoking your way?

Think outside of the circle of the protestors, and know that the protestors have no more rights than anyone else. None.

If they had staged a protest in a park, and not interfered on the streets and smashed windows, there would be no problem.

Did the protestors pay for the damage they caused? Guess not, eh?

Is Koot an 'expert' on fascism? Far from it. Mussolini was facist

and Koot let's look back at the NDP in the 1970s. What would that be called?

You insist on the Conservative/Liberals being "beholden" to corporations, there is the other side of the equation, the NDP being beholden to Big Labour and special interest groups on the left.

The inherent power and influence that Big Labour has on the NDP both federally and provincially? What would that be called?

and as your statement "just sayin'", why even bother using it?

You're describing something that you had already completed.

Anonymous said...

Changing the name of the BC Liberals is going to turn around the re-election prospects CC and company? Just how stupid do they think BC voters are?

Anonymous said...

Someone commented that here is nothing "New" in the New Democratic Party as this misplaced adjective has been in the name for decades. Under Mulcair it would make more sense to change the "new" to "no" so the party could keep the same acronym. After all, Mulcair is unlike Jack Layton as he forces his MPs to vote his way rather than to follow their consciences or constituents wishes.

Anonymous said...

Just how stupid do they (the BC Liberals are? ) hopefully not as stupid as a few here are in regards to a name change which hasnt even reached approval by the party membership in a convention approved resolution but a few here figure had already is a done deal

Anonymous said...

After all, Mulcair is unlike Jack Layton as he forces his MPs to vote his way rather than to follow their consciences or constituents wishes.
Sounds like a certain leader is being a dictator and not overly democratic.

Thing was East Germany pride itself on being a "Democratic Republic". It was run by a left wing leader.

Ron1 said...

My suggestion for a new label would be the BC Opportunity party.

Opportnists from across the province would flock to this exciting new party led by our family-friendly Premier.

Anonymous said...

The fact is - a name change would work.

Between global, ctv and cknw there would be so much smoke and puffery that most BCers would buy into it.

We have a corporate media that will shamelessly lie to promote its own interests

kootcoot said...

Anon at 13 May, 2012 8:56:00 AM PDT, you make absolutely no sense.

He says I claim to be an expert on fascism......yet all I did was quote the man who even muddle mind himself admits is a fascist.

"Is Koot an 'expert' on fascism? Far from it. Mussolini was facist"

Maybe he is too illiterate to understand the conventions of how quotes are displayed as in

quoter cited

The italics are an optional convention I happen to choose to use to clarify what is a quote (or a title sometimes), but logical matters of grammar, syntax and style are obviously beyond your grasp!

I guess when you are a troll reaching for straws and the facts are against you confusion is all that is left.

BTW, I would rather have my politicians being more "beholden" to unions, which after all are merely working folks, like myself and most people than the corporate pig members of the one percent club, who use money instead of votes to get the government they want. With the govenments we've had since Thatcher and Ronnie Raygun and the effect of corporate anti-labor money on legislation, unions have become almost irrelevant today, but working people still have interests that used to be more strongly represented by unions than corporate CEO types that are the cronies of reich wingers everywhere and unfortunatel even right wing lite as exemplified by the Liberals here and the dems in the US.

Anonymous said...

Well loot anyone who works and receives a paycheque is a working person whether they are union or not. Union membership does not apply to all working folks.

We guess you are confused as to what a real working person is. The unions also depend on those CEOs that you hate.

But we suppose you are an expert on that too?

Anonymous said...

My suggestion for a new label would be the BC Opportunity party.

Opportnists from across the province would flock to this exciting new party led by our family-friendly Premier.

No need. That Party already exists as the New Democratic Party led by Adrian Dix. All of the left wing special interest groups will be flocking to it after the next election seeking opportunity, in addition to the political hacks and supporters who figure they "deserve" an "opportunity" with the NDP. When it comes for Adrian Dix and his Cabinet to decide, some will be disappointed, many will not.

Be around when that happens.

Basset horn said...

The free online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “liberal”, both its lower case “l” (“liberal”) and upper case “l” (“Liberal”) usages. The definition is found at ()
The word “liberal” is defined, in part, as
2b: broad-minded; especially : not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms
6a : of, favoring, or based upon the principles of liberalism
6b capitalized: of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism;
The same dictionary includes the following as one of the “principles of liberalism”:: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties; specifically such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (as those involving race, gender, or class)
I have added the underlining in the foregoing.
Every word and every action of the Christy Clark administration seems to me to contradict the underlined phrase. This government consistently cuts spending to social programs (health care and education above all). Those programs are the means whereby a government – any government - acts as “a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities” by collecting taxes from the well-to-do and spending them to provide programs which assist the disadvantaged.
The problem with the name of the provincial party which calls itself “Liberal” is not a matter of “branding” or of which name will “sell” best in the minds of voters. It’s a matter of honesty. I present myself quite openly as a democratic socialist. Either Christy Clark is remarkably stupid – not knowing how to label accurately her political and social beliefs – or she is remarkably deceptive and wants to disguise those convictions. I’m not sure whether “stupidity” or “dishonesty” are the best labels for the BC “Liberal” party and, frankly, I don’t care. Having been born and raised in Kelowna (my parents shopped at Bennett’s Hardware and Capozzi Grocery when I was a child), and having read some of the words of William Aberhart, I am convinced that the very conservative aspects of the former Social Credit party are written all over the “Liberal” platform. A little truthfulness in labelling would be welcome, but I am not going to hold my breath waiting for it.

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