Let's reserve judgment on the branding and civic pride implications of this even in light of :
- The boycotts of Macy's by loyal Marshall Field customers (we have it from a good source that the Macy's knuckleheads were implored not to change the name, at least of the State Street store, lest exactly this happen),
- The failed attempt to get Sox fans to call their shrine US Cellular Park instead of Comiskey (or Cominskey as the local deese and dose guys call it).
- The enduring resentment that Chicagoans have about talking about First Chicago as Chase (we note that the insular New Yorkers let the flyover bumpkins here keep their Chicago skyline checks and ATM cards, at least throwing us a bone).
Actually, let's not. The BSTFKATST will always be the Sears Tower. The Willis name will never stick.
What really gets us, though, is not the branding or civic pride issue. It's the short memories that the insurance brokerage leadership seems to have about the history of putting their offices in tall buildings to show the world that their dicks are bigger than their competitors'.
Years ago, Marsh, then the world's biggest insurance brokerage, moved into the top floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Aon, then the second biggest, moved into the top floors of the South Towers quickly thereafter.
On September 11, 2001, 295 Marsh employees and 60 Marsh contractors were killed. 175 Aon employees lost their lives.
We had the privilege of working with Aon's then Chairman Pat Ryan, and paying close attention to the actions of Marsh Chairman Jeff Greenberg during that time. Both were exemplary men who demonstrated genuine pain and compassion. We are not taking them to task for their choice of office space. Nobody expected an airplane to drive in the window.
Now that we know it's a risk, though, we question the wisdom of Willis's choice -- putting their employees in what is now the tallest building in the US. It doesn't make Willis bigger or better.
It just makes them a target.
And this from a firm that's ostensibly in the risk management industry?