Bone-head franchise Branding Report

October 3, 2008

Rule #1 in media relations is that you never bitch about press coverage because they buy their ink by the barrel.

Rule #1 in franchise branding is:

  • Do not (even if it is legal) trade on a beloved public institution or trademark. If you are an investor, avoid this situation like the plague; 10-foot pole time. It’ll blow up in your face.

Case in Point: A great little article from Rocco Parascandola at Newsday called Pizza not endorsed by the NYPD.

It may be just a cheesy way to capitalize on the New York Police Department’s reputation, but under terms of a recent settlement N.Y.P.D. Pizza can keep its name as long as it makes clear it is not affiliated with New York’s Finest.

The legal tempest started in 2005, when the city accused the Florida-based chain of “intentionally and purposely” designing its logo to look like the NYPD’s uniform patch.

In true franchisor form (the judicial mixing of half-truth and overweening hyperbole) head honcho Paul Russo goes on:

“It was a bit wearisome coping with the fact that my company had to encounter legal distress with the city in which I am so proud to hail from,” he said. “I am very pleased with the conclusion for my franchise system and can now venture forward in making the franchising of N.Y.P.D. Pizza the most successful in the world.”

A bit wearisome? Most successful in the world (ahhh…19 franchises in 12 years)?

Imagine the following scenario:

You’ve just sunk your life savings into opening the latest N.Y.P.D. Pizza store in, say, Kansas City, MO. Your door bell rings and the local NEWS at Eleven talking head shoves a microphone in your face.

“What the…?” you catch yourself muttering.

It seems the fifth estate wants your side of the story about your restaurant

  • It seems your 20 year-old rookie manager called the cops on some fat, loud mouth broad this afternoon. Totally hysterical.

Back Story: The woman is from New York visiting her cousin and took offense at your brand. She just happens to be a NYPD widow

This has left a deep impression on the local Kansas City coppers who responded to the 911 call.

  • Do the near-word “tazered” mean anything to you?

It has been my personal policy not to alienate an international brotherhood who carry semi-automatic weapons and know where I live.

Symbols: Strength through Unity

September 19, 2008

Michael Webster over at Misleading Advertising Law picked up on my recent posting: Franchising is the latest Big Con.

I absolutely agree with him: the best defense against post franchisor opportunism is a well-funded, professionally managed independent franchisee association, IndFA.

There is no substitute for collective action and only a fool thinks otherwise.

The power of “sticking together” has historically been represented by rods that are bound together, often with an axe in the middle (fasces: from the Latin meaning “bundle”). The English word fascist is also derived from this root.

  • In ancient Rome, the bodyguards of magistrates carried fasces and it came to symbolize authority. On early American coins, the fasces symbolizes the unity of the colonies, strength in numbers (A single stick may be broken, but a number of sticks bound together are invincible).

Fasces show up on seals (state of Colorado, two of them crossed on the seal of the U.S. Senate, the Knights of Columbus, {above), the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, and the fascist party under Benito Mussolini.

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