There's always backlash when an arena, ballpark or some other well-known building gets slapped with a new corporate identity. But Chicagoans are likely to set a new bar for bitchiness now that the city's greatest landmark, the Sears Tower, is being renamed the Willis Tower in honor of a big new tenant.
Sears commissioned the building in 1970, sold it in the 1990s but kept the naming rights. Those rights expired in 2003 but weren't sold to anyone else. Now, insurance company Willis Group Holdings is swooping in. It's preparing to consolidate five local offices (almost 500 employees) into the 110-story building, and grabbing naming rights, too. "Having our name associated with Chicago's most iconic structure underscores our commitment to this great city, and recognizes Chicago's importance as a major financial hub and international business center," Willis chairman and CEO Joseph J. Plumeri says in a release.
What Plumeri forgets is that few people outside his business have known or cared about Willis Group Holdings. Now, everyone will hate them. Plumeri may be hoping that whatever storm erupts over the Willis name will die down eventually. To help his cause, he should probably also rethink the idea of painting the building silver.
—Posted by Tim Nudd