What’s in a name? Sometimes, not much. Sometimes, the world.
Today, in São Paulo, WTorre, Palmeiras and Allianz publicly announced the purchase of the naming rights of the New Arena by Allianz: a deal worth roughly US$ 150 million for a 20-year contract, Palmeiras’ share being approximately US$ 19 million (the rest goes to WTorre; always remembering that Palmeiras are not paying a cent for the construction of the New Arena).
Allianz rapidly launched a facebook voting campaign, where supporters are encouraged to pick the name of Palmeiras’ new stadium from three options: Allianz Center, Allianz 360º and Allianz Parque.
Needless to say, none of these options make a palmeirense happy. The first two make no reference do Palmeiras or the Palestra Italia Stadium. The third option… Well, “Parque” is a reference to the Parque Antártica where the old Palestra Italia was situated. But the name has a strange ring to it: in Portuguese, the correct phrasing would be “Parque Allianz”. “Allianz Parque” is like calling the Munich stadium “Arena Allianz”. Doesn’t quite work.
This is however less important than the main issue: “every” supporter wants the name to be “Allianz Palestra”: the sponsor in evidence, but with a strong link to the original stadium as well as Palmeiras’ origins.
The people at Allianz, like Brazil CEO Edward Lange here to your right, say it’s company policy not putting anything in front of the name “Allianz” (thus ruling out “Parque Allianz”). Allianz also fear that “Palestra” is too strong a name, that it will shadow “Allianz” if put together. And here, Allianz is choosing the wrong path.
The palmeirense is VERY traditional – a feeling sprung from the club’s origins in the Italian minorities of São Paulo, the persecution suffered in the past and the unequal treatment Palmeiras are suffering to this date. A palmeirense refers to his home, his stadium, as “Palestra Italia” or simply “Palestra”. And always will.
This is bad news if you’ve purchased the naming rights and are opting for a collision course with tradition, because you will lose. It’s good news if you trust the strength of your brand and also supporters to recognise your efforts to respect history.
Call it Allianz Parque, and supporters will say Palestra.
Call it Allianz Palestra, and many might still call it Palestra, but many others (and in increasing numbers) will call it Allianz Palestra. And believe you me: many of us will make an effort to say the full name, in recognition of the respectful attitude shown by the company in reverting the decision.
Allianz, you have a unique opportunity to please 15 million potential customers. Just say the name. Say the name.