During a time when brands are forced to reconcile with political backlash at an unprecedented rate, one company worth billions is completely overhauling its image.
The Washington Redskins.
Owner Dan Snyder has adamantly expressed his unwillingness to change the team’s offensive name multiple times in the past. So, even though his business’ namesake is a harmful racial slur, fans were shocked when rumors began circulating that an actual change was coming.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.“
— ABC 7 News – WJLA (@ABC7News) July 2, 2020
Since the killing of George Floyd and other innocent Black people at the hands of police officers sparked nationwide protests, big-name sponsors such as Nike, Pepsi, and FedEx (FedEx Field is the name of the team’s stadium) began to dissociate from anything seen as racially insensitive. This movement proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for the DC football team.
The team released the following statement to announce the brand’s change in direction.
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) July 13, 2020
Emphasis on “sponsors.”
Rumors about the team’s name change have been circulating since early 2013 when Dan Snyder was questioned on the issue. While the announcement of the team’s new name is expected this week, there has been speculation that the team has had difficulty trademarking new titles. After all, fans and outsiders have had a seven-year head start in claiming potential new names in hopes of a potential payday from the $3.4 Billion franchise. Maybe Patrick Mahomes should start snatching up names for his team…
Other professional sports teams such as the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves have also had talks about Native American representation. Although “Redskins” is certainly the most egregious team name, it may be far from the last franchise to reconsider the way Native Americans are portrayed in their branding.