Family, politicians battle over "Brand Mandela"

Nelson MandelaProtecting Mandela's image harder after his death; family uses name to launch wine, reality TV. (AP)

From political posters to bottles of wine and kitchen aprons, the face and name of Nelson Mandela are a potent commercial and political brand in South Africa. Little wonder it's so sought after - and the source of occasional squabbles.

Following his death on Thursday at the age of 95, the scramble for control of the Mandela legacy - both financial and moral - will involve his family, the ruling African National Congress (ANC), and the Nelson Mandela Foundation he set up to protect his broader message.

At stake is the inheritance that will go to Mandela's more than 30 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, some of whom already use the Mandela name and image to market everything from clothing to reality TV.

There are also the Mandela brands and trademarks that help fund the Foundation. And for the ANC, Mandela's reputation as an anti-apartheid hero is worth votes for years to come.

There are no available public figures of Mandela's wealth, making it difficult to put an exact value on his estate, which includes an upscale house in Johannesburg, a modest dwelling in his rural Eastern Cape home province, and royalties from book sales including his autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom".

Several South African branding experts have declined to estimate the annual value of Mandela's trademark and brands.

Maintaining control over the copyrights is already a difficult business; protecting the Mandela brand may be even harder now that he is gone.

"The beauty of the Nelson Mandela brand is that it has been lived by him exactly as it has been presented by him. His behaviour is his brand," said Jeremy Sampson, the executive chairman of Interbrand Sampson de Villiers.

"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," he added.

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