In the news
When Paul Newman passed away two Fridays ago at the age of 83, media coverage focused not only on his long film career, but also his work as a philanthropist and entrepreneur.
He leaves behind Newman's Own, which he cofounded in 1982, an all-natural food and beverage company that donates all post-tax profits and royalties for educational and charitable purposes. The actor was also affiliated with Newman's Own Organics, which was operated by his daughter Nell.
Why does it matter?
Packages of Newman's Own and Newman's Own Organics sported the actor's iconic face on most of its products. With branding tied to his persona, both companies now face some identity issues.
“We feel that our association with him and the mission he created will live on beyond him,” Peter Meehan, cofounder and CEO of Newman's Own Organics, tells PRWeek. “I think he and those at Newman's Own Foundation did a good job of planning for this.”
The company is not giving out details on the way Newman's image will be used, but Stephanie Smirnov, president of DeVries PR, which does not represent the company, says the brand equity of Newman's Own has transcended the actor.
“What is so brilliant... is that even though it is Newman's face on the packaging, he himself hadn't been overly commercialized,” she explains. “Because of that the brand will absolutely survive.”
Smirnov says that, after a period of mourning, the company should keep its branding the same. She adds that companies facing the loss of an eponymous founder create a foundation to honor that person's legacy if a philanthropic component is not already in place.
1. Newman's Own reports giving nearly $250 million to charity. After he died, its Web site read, “We will honor his vision… that will perpetuate his philanthropic legacy.”
2. Newman's Own produces more than 175 products ranging from salad dressings to lemonade. All of them carry the image of Paul Newman on the packaging.
3. Last year, popcorn icon Orville Redenbacher was digitally resurrected more than a decade after his death for widely panned TV ads for his namesake company.
4. After Wendy's founder and popular face of the brand Dave Thomas died in 2002, the company preserved his legacy with a tribute Web site.
5. Gianni Versace's murder in 1997 prompted the company to make his sister Donatella creative director of the brand and his brother Santo CEO.