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WEBINAR: Palisades Tahoe – The strategy to remove a brand’s racist and offensive name.

Struck Executive Creative Director Scott Sorenson presented Struck’s approach to renaming the ski resort Squaw Valley to Palisades Tahoe. The lesson for other brands in this situation as they approach a name change is to consider the parts of the brand that will endure, and the parts of the brand that are uniquely yours.

In our case, the resort was known for its storied terrain and its legendary skier history, both acting as host for the 1960 Olympic Winter Games and being recognized the world over as the birthplace of the freeskiing movement.

Unfortunately, it carried a name that for many years had been hurtful and derogatory to the Indigenous people who first inhabited the area. When Struck got involved, we made it a requirement to meet with the Washo tribe, especially any women who were willing to talk to us. And we began to draw inspiration from them as well as many other connections to the resort.

Our audience was complicated: corporate stakeholders, old timers and local residents, customers, the Native American population, employees and athlete teams and the broader global audience of skiers and boarders and people paying attention to the name change. We did our best to give each of them a chance to voice their perspectives, and then we made decisions based on what we learned.

Key takeaways from this presentation include:

  1. Don’t wait until the tide turns against you.
  2. A name is not as important as you think.
  3. Take the good forward.
  4. You can’t please everyone, but you can make everyone feel heard.
  5. You can’t eradicate the past.
  6. Ask: What is the most important thing to say?
  7. But remember: The name can’t do it all.
  8. Look ahead.

Watch the full presentation, with audio from the presentation with Utah DMC below.

A PDF version of the slides from the presentation is available here.