This week, two of the best known brands in the pornography industry – Hustler and Girls Gone Wild, petitioned the U.S. government for a $5 billion bailout to reposition and rebuild both companies citing a 22% loss in sales and rentals over the course of the prior year due to the increased availability of sexually explicit material on the Internet. As far as the two brand champions, Larry Flynt and Joe Francis, are concerned — if banks and auto manufacturers could get bailouts, then why not companies that deal in pornography?
A joint press release from Hustler and Girls Gone Wild quotes Larry Flynt as defending the bailout request as follows, “People are too depressed to be sexually active. This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex.” I should note that neither company is in jeopardy of collapsing. Instead, the press release says, “The $13 billion in industry is in no fear of collapse, but why take chances?”
It’s an interesting scenario that raises a bigger question – which brands are deserving of bailouts when poor business practices lead to failure on a grand scale? What makes one brand deserving of being saved and another undeserving?
In other words, what is the value of a brand not just to investors and consumers but to the larger world around it? Ford, Chevrolet and General Motors appear to be vital for the United States to continue operating (at least according to the government) and thus, those companies received a sizeable bailout.
I guess the question is this – is your brand valuable enough to be deserving of a bailout? On the other hand, should any brand be deserving of a bailout? That’s a question that hits on branding, marketing, finance, ethics, and much more. What do you think?
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