What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name?

How about one-hundred million dollars?  If you’re Lindsay Lohan that’s what you think is in your name.  The news that the Hollywood star is suing E*Trade over their latest commercial has quickly spread.  From comments on blogs and news sources reporting on the case, there seem to be legitimate arguments favoring both sides represented in the case.  Reporting on the lawsuit this morning, the Wall Street Journal cited Lohan’s attorney as saying she has had several people who have stepped forward to help prove her case.  However, comments on the article posted online and accessible at:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704145904575112070739770554.html
seem to tell a different story.

I tend to agree with them.  When I watched the ad, Lindsay Lohan didn’t even come to mind – and I consult for Southern California based media companies.  Maybe I’m wrong, though.  Maybe E*Trade was alluding to and misusing the Lindsay Lohan brand name.  I’ve included a link to the YouTube clip.  I’ll let you watch and decide for yourself.

As you watch, keep this in the back of your head: E*Trade is a fairly formidable company.  They can afford to run the risk of being sued for something like this.  (That’s not to say they enjoy being sued or that it’s right for them to get sued – but they can afford it.)  Small businesses aren’t often so lucky.  If one ad is misinterpreted, that can be the end.  It only ever takes one lawsuit to put a small business under.

Have fun with your ads.  Take a lesson from E*Trade and come up with some fun concept that can communicate your message in an entertaining way.  Without a doubt, marketing is one of the most fun aspects of business and is likely the most creative one.  Just make sure that your risks are going to be worth your rewards.  You don’t want to become a no-name because an ad sounded like a good idea at the time.

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