Branding Historical Sites Can Be Tricky
You will enjoy this insightful and thought-provoking guest article from our good friend and colleague, Jason Keeling.
The former Weston Hospital (W.Va.) had capacity to provide for up to 2,000 mental health patients until it closed in 1994. This National Historic Landmark remained quiet until 2007, when a contractor purchased it for $1.5 million. The new owners recently decided to market the location by its pre-Civil War name, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.
That decision has drawn the ire of several disability rights groups who claim the terminology is derogatory and outdated. Ann McDaniel, executive director of the Statewide Independent Living Council told the Associated Press: "It's like turning back the clock to a time we don't want to go back to...I think they could still do what they want to do without being offensive."
The owners claim that reverting to the original name is a matter of historical preservation. Commentator Hoppy Kercheval points out that the old mental hospital in Williamsburg, Va. is known today as it was more than 200 years ago as “The Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds.”
So Marketing Geniuses, do you believe using the Weston Hospital's old name is an appropriate branding strategy, or should a more politically correct title be selected?
Jason Keeling is a PR Consultant, a fellow blogger and an all-around smart dude. His contributions as a young business leader in West Virginia were recognized in 2006 by The State Journal, which named his as a member of its Generation Next: 40 under 40.