Client Management: The West Point Case

In mid-April, the United States Military Academy unveiled its new athletic team name, “Army West Point.” The rebranding process, which took a year and a half to complete under Nike, is drawing mixed feelings from present and past students.

West Point has a long history of renaming its athletics department, but perhaps those rollouts didn’t include a fashion show like Nike’s.

This very recent news is a great example of managing clients. From the way the rebranding process unraveled, it would appear that Nike might have had some pushback from West Point. After all, it is fairly obvious the rebranding wasn’t that much a rebranding with a minimal name change.

In PR it is important to know your boundaries with clients. The client is the boss and sometimes they are going to make a decision that doesn’t exactly mesh with your original communications plan.

West Point’s heritage is very important and it is possible Nike wanted to completely pivot in another direction from the days when General MacArthur strolled the grounds. Now it is obvious Nike knows a thing or two about sports, however, no matter what experts they may claim to be, it is the clients’ sign off that is most important.

A PR team is there to give professional advice. It is up to the client to decide if they take it or not. The advice a PR team gives might be unpopular or uncomfortable for the client – especially those clients with such a history as West Point – but it is important to stress that you have the best interests of their brand in mind.