The recent hubbub about the short lived Ironman Access program (see here for Jeff's writeup) got me thinking. No, not about if this was an example of greed gone wild or why WTC quickly killed this program but the idea of a commercial brand or corporate symbol meaning something to the public or members of the public beyond what it should mean. This is more than "liking" a brand or following a brand but I started thinking about passion for what a brand supposingly means (beyond profit for the corporate entity) and what would be an indication of true passion for a brand. Then I had an idea. Besides Ironman, which brands warrant enough passion for people to get the corporate logo or symbol tattooed somewhere on their body?
Full disclosure - I do not have any tattoos and I'm not really planning on getting one.
My first thought, after the M-dot was Harley Davidson. I think this example might be even more understood and accepted by society than WTC's M-Dot.
My second thought was the Olympics with the Olympic Rings. Are the Olympics a for profit enterprise? Ask Peter Uebberoth whose led and managed the first privately financed Olympic Games to a surplus of nearly $250 million in the 1984 games.
Other corporate brands that could fall into this category included Nike, Playboy, Disney and even Apple (see William H. Macy in Wild Hogs). I'm sure there are more and we all could add to this list.
But is it right? This is beyond loyalty. In some cases it is beyond believing the hype. As always, what may be OK to some may be over the top to others. Of course, it also made me wonder if they included a discount on a tattoo with the $1000 Ironman Access program would that have been enough to have to accepted by more "customers." I believe this story isn't over but I am interested in seeing where it goes.
PS: There are more interesting articles on this all around the blogosphere. I referenced Jeff's as one of the first I saw on this along with BDDs.