CNN asks: “Can the Klan rebrand?”

Racism is facing a branding problem, and CNN is on it

Topics: CNN, Racism, KKK, Ku Klux Klan, Branding, marketing, Hate groups, , ,

CNN asks: "Can the Klan rebrand?"(Credit: Patrick Collard)

CNN issued a groundbreaking report on Saturday about the struggles of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist group that has been marginalized by all those of us who believe in racial equality.

It turns out that racists are divided on a very important issue: What is the best way to be a racist in America these days? Some Klansmen think the answer is in violence, while others support non-violent racism. A week after a Klansman murdered three people at two Jewish institutions in Kansas, Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona condemned the action, saying that, “I believe in racial separation but it doesn’t have to be violent.”

Now, CNN wonders: “Can the Klan rebrand?”

The answer, of course, is “no,” yet Ashley Fantz’s article explores the question at length, asking “top marketing experts, brand gurus and historians” whether the hate group — which continues to discriminate against minorities– can separate itself from its violent past, as its leaders hope to do (while, to be clear, still being openly racist).



CNN’s question, framed from “a sheer marketing perspective,” is equal parts bizarre as it is tone-deaf, leveling a hate group with a legitimate organization as it compares the KKK’s rebranding efforts to a car with a faulty gas tank, and explains that “without a clear leader,” “crafting and conveying a spin-friendly message is impossible.”

Though brand expert Laura Ries explained that the KKK stands for “hatred; they always have,” she offers some advice for an image “revamp,” too: Find your Pope-like leader; someone “like that to make people believe a change has happened.”

Apparently, racism is facing a branding problem. After this story, CNN may be as well. It’ll be fun to see what Jon Stewart has to say about this.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    "Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...