Can Lassie be saved? When re-branding doesn’t work

I’m still reeling about Lassie. That the scion of a loyal, courageous, elegant line of war heroes (The Courage of Lassie) has been re-positioned as the “Kate Middleton of animals” is more than I can bear.

Lassie, enduring her rebranding as a product pitch dog.  Courtesy of The New York Times.
Lassie, enduring her rebranding as a product pitch dog.  (Courtesy of The New York Times)

Granted re-branding is tricky, as are brand extensions. Should this young Lassie have been a brand extension instead of a re-brand?  Can Lassie come home?

Case in point:  I’ve been admiring a new extension of a venerable local brand as it’s come together over the last several months.  The new building is adjacent to the original, so the relationship of mother-to-child is obvious. Of course, this is not Hollywood, but we’re getting close to it here in Austin, Tex.

The original, Fonda San Miguel, is a gorgeous place filled with a world-class art collection, food and drink. A welcoming, elegant restaurant with adjacent gardens.

It's the kind of restaurant eople take pictures of each other standing in front of
It’s the kind of restaurant where you go to curry favor.

Here’s the extension. It’s unannounced, unopened but rumored to be a tapas bar.  Perfect, no?

The new tapas bar of Fonda San Miguel in Austin, Texas.
The child of the grand Fonda San Miguel, just across the garden in Austin, Texas.  A bit of hipster funk.

The brand extension works because it contrasts with the original while maintaining the flavor. It’s unexpected, but it makes sense. (I sound like I’m at a wine tasting, don’t I?  But you understand what I’m saying.)

A lesson for Dreamworks?  Don’t tamper with an icon.  Did anyone ask Marilyn Monroe to lose weight?  Well, probably, but that’s another conversation.

Is it presumptious to compare a Hollywood icon to a local institution?  Perhaps. But then again why not, if something is to be learned?

Maybe Lassie’s great-great-great offspring should have been renamed “Lasi” and positioned as a fashion blogger?

Accommodating change — and everybody else

Everything was set up to start spring cleaning, and this little guy stuck his head out of an abandoned sparrow nest nestled between the rear window and an outdoor shade.  Okay, so I’m a little late on the cleaning.

It’s an anole lizard, a charming little reptile — sometimes green, sometimes brown — seen darting across rocks, fences and buildings in warm weather (just about all year in Austin).

A reptilian squatter, seen through a (dirty) window.
A reptilian squatter, seen through a (dirty) window.

The little guy (it may be a gal) is homesteading.  I can tell it thinks big — it’s taken over the entire foot-long nest.  Anolis lizards are fiercely protective.  When I pointed the hose, it girded its loins, as the ancients used to say, and made ready for battle.

Nature vs. woman – one of the life’s four basic conflicts.  The compromise?  Abandon the project and am work out an accommodation.  I mean, what if it’s a single mom?

Austin’s kind of like that: thinking big and figuring out how to accommodate record growth.  There are lots of out-of-state license plates on packed roads. Housing is getting harder to find.  All of which goes hand-in-hand with excitement and energy — and a nexus of talent, energy and resources.

Does growth have to be Darwinian?  The anole reminded me to pause and make way.  To make room for those of a different stripe and enjoy the expansion.

The disputed territory -- can the anole and I accommodate one another?
The disputed territory — can the anole and I accommodate one another?