The face and name of Nelson Mandela are powerful branding tools that can help sell everything from sweatshirts to kitchen aprons.
With the recent death of the former South African president and national treasure, there is a scramble as to who gets to control the Mandela brand and legacy, which are potent commercial and political images that can garner a fortune, Reuters reports.
In the mix for Mandela's inheritance, legacy, image and brand are his more than 30 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, some of whom already use the Mandela name and image to market everything from reality TV to caps, Reuters reports.
Although the political activist objected to his name being associated to alcohol or tobacco products, Reuters reports that Makaziwe Mandela and one of her daughters launched a "House of Mandela" wine.
Some of his grandchildren started a line of clothing featuring caps and sweatshirts that have Mandela's image under "Long Walk to Freedom," taken from the title of his autobiography. Two of his granddaughters starred in a reality television show called Being Mandela, Reuters reports.
Then there are those companies that have no ties to the Mandela family, or the man himself, but wish to profit from his legacy. According to Reuters, there are at least 40 companies registered with the South African government that use the Mandela name.
The list includes the Gandhi-Mandela Nursing Academy, Mandela Truck Shuttle Services, Mama Mandela Marketing Company, Thanks Mandela Toiletries and Mandela's Shed, a restaurant.
Mandela's clan name, "Madiba," has been used by more than 140 registered companies, including: Madiba Truck Stop, Madiba Wines, Madiba's Driving School, Madiba Chickens, Madiba Cash and Madiba Bottle Store, Reuters reports.
There has been no calculation of Mandela's financial worth reported before or after his death, but his estate is slated to include an upscale house in Johannesburg, a modest dwelling in his rural Eastern Cape home province and royalties from book sales, Reuters reports.
Mandela brands and trademarks help fund the namesakes Foundation and the ANC, to whom Mandela's reputation as a hero is worth more than monetary value, since being associated with the anti-apartheid legend garners political pull.
"The ANC made the brand, and the brand became bigger than the ANC," author and political analyst William Gumede said told Reuters.
"Unfortunately, a lot of rank-and-file ANC leaders right now see Mandela as their own, rather than as belonging to the whole of South Africa and the broader world."
The Nelson Mandela Foundation is the official guardian of Brand Mandela. The foundation owns Mandela's "46664" number—which was his prison number—the "Nelson Mandela" name, the clan name "Madiba," by which he is widely known and "Rolihlahla," which was Mandela's given name. In total, the foundation has more than a dozen copyrights and trademarks for Mandela, which it uses for fundraising and charitable works, Reuters reports.
"The beauty of the Nelson Mandela brand is that it has been lived by him exactly as it has been presented by him. His behavior is his brand," Jeremy Sampson, the executive chairman of Interbrand Sampson de Villiers told Reuters.
"In the rush to commercialize it, we run the risk of watering down or destroying the good that the brand stood for purely with the crassness of finance."
Read more at Reuters.