Saturday, September 4, 2010

American Airlines, Can't we just be friends?

With this blog I'm going a little bit out on a limb and I hope it is not a big mistake.  Has anyone not seen one of those beautiful pictures of CBI and our sailboats on the Charles River with the Boston skyline behind? Recently some sailing friends showed me a great picture of CBI from an American Airlines advertisement. It made me want to come to Boston, and I'm here every day!  It's an image which has become iconic to Boston - as it should be.  CBI is a Boston original -the first community sailing program in the nation and the largest too.  Volunteerism and community are the core values which drive our organization .We serve thousands of children with outreach to inner city neighborhoods, and hundreds of individuals with disabilities through our Universal Access Program.  At the core, CBI's programs use sailing as a vehicle to bigger and better goals as articulated in our mission statement. See our mission statement here.

As is often the case when we see a great image of CBI in a commercial advertisement there is a  little voice inside that says, "Hey! that's us!" And almost immediately after, "That company should support CBI some how. After all they are in fact using us to help market their business!". Regardless of how sensible that sentiment might appear to us it apparently doesn't hold a lot of  water in the corporate world.  Many corporations have used the picture of CBI  for their own marketing purposes.  And we are still waiting for them to send CBI a little something for the holidays. 

So my friends wrote a note to American Airlines suggesting that a little corporate support might be a good idea. If I were a large corporation like American Airlines I would want to associate myself with a fine organization like CBI, especially when CBI has such a highly visible and iconic image.   Well maybe not.  Since I have a pretty big soft spot in my heart for CBI I thought the tone of American Airlines response to us was mean. AA explained that they purchased  the image from a reputable third-party online vendor and claimed that using the CBI image was not an attempt to convey to viewers that AA sponsors, endorses or is affiliated with CBI.  They conclude "As such, American also declines Community Boating, Inc's request to contribute to it's organization.  This letter is sent without waiving any of American Airlines rights or remedies all of which are expressly reserved." 

Ouch! I think they missed the point.  Maybe they are just not nice? maybe they just woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning? We teach kids to sail. We charge a buck. We teach individuals with disabilities to sail. We charge a buck.  We're a pretty nice organization. They ought to support us.  They could do worse.

So here's my idea.  Forward this blog onto friends and let's all just pull at their heart strings a little and see if we can interest American Airlines in "Sailing for All' especially for children and individuals with disabilities.  I'm sure once they think on it for a moment they'll recognize a pretty good idea.  American Airlines - you can contact me directly at  Look forward to hearing from you soon.



  1. Are there any CBI Sailors in the Picture? Did they get permission from them to use there likeness for commercial purposes?

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