The Brand Called Dick

Ok, so this is a little bit on the lite side for the first day back from the holidays, but am I the only person who keeps thinking about Dick Clark's performance on New Year's Rockin' Eve? I found myself watching with that train wreck-type fascination usually reserved for plane crashes and terrorist attacks. At first, I thought he simply erased his brand equity by appearing at all; in an instant, he was transformed from America's eternal teenager to a very, very old man. And then I decided that it took a lot of cojones, and that perhaps people would remember him for that after he's gone. Why give up your franchise to Ryan Seacrest without a fight at least?

So who's with me? Was 2006 good for the Brand called Dick or not?

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  • marcy

    There is no way anyone watching could have turned it off. It was hard to watch, but impossible not to. If he is back next year, I'll be back. That says it all in terms of branding. Did anyone see him make-out with his wife???

  • Phil

    Strictly from a branding POV it was like watching watch Wallace Beery slam his fist into the wall until the blood streamed through his fingers.

    But real life isn't an exercise in branding, and Clark's time in front of the camera certainly makes a great third act in human drama of the Dick Clark story.

    If I was Clark's brand manager, though I would make a conscious effort to do some major rebranding. This is the Dick Clark you didn't know. The Dick Clark with wisdom, muscle and soul. I'd unwind some backstory--other times when Clark overcame adversity.

    Dick Clark the brand is so much about the pretty face, and if you try and leave it that way,'s just the story of Dorian Grey.

  • Mike

    I would have gladly listend to Dick Clark in his current state over the brutally cheesy and annoying Ryan Seacrest. I believe that it was more important for Dick Clark to make an appearance than it was for any viewers to see him.
    Dick Clark didn't need to show up, he doesn't owe it to anyone, we owe him.


  • Wes

    It is obvious to any onlooker that the "band called dick" is undergoing some sort of internal struggle with it's identity. Yes DC can choose exactly how he wants to run his company, but come on... go out on top!

    Then again... the demographic that watches the NYE show has changed... but the ratings are also dropping. My dad was going to stay in and watch the program, but when I talked to him the next day, he told me he was asleep before the show began...

  • Steven

    There's a question of how to 'define' the Brand called Dick. Who's to say what fits that brand and what doesn't? While onlookers can summarize the brand into a set of rules and then say whether or not a particular performance was consistent with those rules or not, perhaps Clark is the one who is really in charge of the brand, and he is choosing to show a different, previously unseen, facet.

    You have to decide for yourself whether the person matters more, or the technical performance.

  • G A

    I think we're reading way too much into this. I think Dick Clark is a fighter and loves to do the NYE show and so despite his health problems, he pushed himself to be there. I admire him for that. He wore a smile the entire night, but I'm betting that it was a real struggle for him! If I had the chance, I would like to thank him in person for his courage.

  • Devorah

    A stroke is a tough thing, and it can happen to anyone at any age. We are so used to seeing "perfect people" on TV, it almost doesn't occur to us that this can happen. Recovery is not quick and easy like breaking an arm might be.
    Dick Clark has a lot to say, and a little bit of periodic muffledness should not be enough to keep him from saying it, or to keep us from listening.

    And yes, I think he has his own brand. He simply and humbly brings the music stars of the day to perform at his show. He chooses them well and does not try to take their spotlight, and they are honored to be on HIS show at his request.

    I was very happy to see him back, and I know that be next year he will be much much better. I think he should continue until he feels he has nothing more to say. I was not sad, but inspired to see him.

    He did the right thing to have someone cover his butt, but I see Seacrest as just being a helping hand, nothing more.

  • Robert

    I was stunned to see this article, for, 60-mins. ago, during my lunch-time catnap I found myself dreaming about Dick Clark. This, four days after seeing him. Point being: he made an impact, at least on me. I'm constantly inundated by the most boisterous marketing (I'm a marketing exec. and my office window literally looks out over Times Sq.). The fact that DC slipped into my subconscious demonstrates the potency of his performance. Performance (and marketing) impact relies not upon perfection, beauty, polish, enunciation, but on uniqueness, e.g., Marlon Brando. Clark's performance had uniqueness and memorableness in spades.

  • Heath Row

    I watched, as well, and I really, really missed him last year. I thought that it was good for him to do for two reasons: (a) show that he's a fighter: "No stroke's going to knock _me_ down!" and (b) pass the torch to Ryan Seacrest. I think the first was worth doing -- and that even though Clark might be less and less public as he ages, he needed to come back after last year's absence. The stroke hit him hard; he'll never be the same.

    But I think the latter aspect didn't happen. Not only was there little rapport or chemistry between Clark and Seacrest -- no sense that there was any amiable professional connection or mentoring going on -- but Seacrest even muffed Clark's name, calling him Dick Carey at one point. Wonder how Casey Kasem felt when he moved on...

    Nonetheless, I think this is a transition point for the Brand Called Dick. Perhaps he won't remain a visible host persona -- perhaps he'll step back to focus on producing. His brand remains strong -- can't help but respect a man who went on TV after a stroke -- and his success now depends on his successor -- and what projects he picks.

  • Ron Grella

    It's real simple to understand when you get older to try to participate. A lot of times there's more that meets the eye. Maybe internally his family is pushing him to fight back and not give up on life. Having a year long goal like that might be real important for him to achieve so he can go on with his life and continue to make progress. Give the guy a break! What it showed me is how fragle life is and that you should celebrate every day successes because next year might not be as good for you and your family.

  • Wayne

    I have personally watched Dick Clark since the late 50's as American Bandstand wove itself into my personal culture. He's an extremely successful American icon who showed tremendous courage on New Year's Eve. How many "Ken doll" actors would have the intestinal fortitude to do what Dick Clark (and Kirk Douglas for that matter) did. I raise my glass to toast Mr. Clark.

  • Steve Portigal

    If the brand is about $$, then it was a good move. Doing nothing would hurt the marketability of the brand. Regardless of how crappy it was, he "proved" he could still be a viable host by being a host. I mean, that's circular, I guess, but if he didn't appear, he'd be finished, right? I mean, if he couldn't do NYE, then he's not in business anymore as a host, and couldn't get any more gigs, etc. Maybe "availability" more than "viability."

    But if the brand is about something more, about meaning, quality, significance, then he should have hung it up. If Dick was my friend and we went out for dinner, I wouldn't expect him to be able to speak clearly. But for a TV host, I would imagine it to be one of the basic criteria. It was distracting and of course a bit of a freakshow (or train wreck as you say) to watch. That's way off-message for what the brand has meant. It came off as an ego play (I've GOT to be there, he demanded), or a money play (we've got to keep the CLARK brand out there) neither of which did I respect. The man is not, IMHO, well enough to be hosting a show. He's certainly made enough money and touched enough people in his life, he doesn't need to be there forever. He should, in terms of the meaning of brand, look to other ways to lend his name and his presence to things.

  • Graywolf

    While it did take a lot of courage for him to come on TV, I felt really bad listening to him the whole time.

  • E. Aldama

    Well, of course there is no shame in growing old and yes it did take a lot of courage and will power to make an appearance. But, the question was about the branding. And, well the brand is, or was, about young - hip - current - pop culture. Allowing us to see him as he is today is noble but maybe at some point the brand should move beyound the person in order to stay relevant.

  • fred

    Here is the deal.... I have known Dick Clark personally for 40 years,he is an fantastic guy, with a little research you can find that his company produces the new years eve show, -- see his web site -- he can change hosts any time he wants,after all these years it was important to him to be there, it took amazing will power to over come his physical handicaps he is an inspiration to everyone over 50.
    we should thank him for being part of our lives and appreciate the effort it took to participate in this event
    it was done with great taste and I for one hope he is back next year stronger then ever. there is no shame in growing old.
    hopefully everyone will have the opportunity.