Dear Mr. Ilitch,
I read today in the Detroit Free Press that your iconic firm, Little Caesars, is in talks to purchase the naming rights to the Motor City Bowl, now that GM has pulled out of sponsoring the annual Boxing Day bowl game.
According to Motor City Bowl CEO George Perles, your pizza chain is being offered not just an add-on name (like the Little Caesars Motor City Bowl), but a full-scale rebranding. Perles suggested the "Little Caesars Pizza Pizza Bowl," though it could easily be the Little Caesars Bowl or Little Caesars Hot n' Ready Bowl.
Mike, you're an icon in Detroit. You own not only one of the most recognizable Michigan brands in the world, but the greatest hockey franchise of all time - the Detroit Red Wings - and the up-and-coming Detroit Tigers. So why not use this time to show us all just how much of a Detroit guy you are?
Mr. Ilitch, I'm asking you to keep the "Motor City" name. Sure, tack on "Little Caesars" if you want, no one would have an issue with that. But other bowls have seen identity problems with re-branding their games, specifically that casual fans don't know which ones they are.
It's a simple case of brand identity - something I hardly need to explain to Mr. "Pizza, Pizza." You can't really have a discussion about the Capital One Bowl without mentioning that it used to be the Citrus Bowl. Ditto the Chick-fil-A Bowl, formerly the Peach Bowl.
We all know that Perles has dreams of moving the bowl up the Big Ten's postseason lineup - so that a Big Ten squad will always come to Detroit. The dream has always been to get Michigan State or Michigan in the game. Surely, sir, you wouldn't want to damage what prestige the bowl has worked so hard to earn by destroying its brand identity, would you?
Mr. Ilitch, you're a Detroit man, through and through. You're the guy who, when GM decided not to re-up its sponsorship of the center field fountains at Comerica Park, decided to allow the Big Three to advertise there all year long for free. You have invested your fortune in Detroit enterprises, and you knows how big this game can be for the city - and your wife's MotorCity Casino.
So Mike, given all that, do us a favor. Don't kill the name. Add Little Caesars to the moniker, but please keep the Motor City in the Motor City Bowl.