But he feels the state should have returned the favor by throwing some of the $40 million collected on the plates his way.
Wyland is an immensely successful and wealthy entrepreneur. He also has a nonprofit foundation that is dedicated to spreading his message of caring for and preserving the world’s oceans — and not by coincidence, spreading Wyland’s artwork all over the globe.
That is apparently why the Coastal Commission declined Wyland’s repeated requests for grant funds from the Whale Tail license plate program. As commission Executive Director Peter Douglas put it, “There is no difference between Wyland and his foundation.”
Wyland’s most brilliant stroke of artistic genius is probably not his use of marine life as artistic inspiration, it’s his ability to combine an environmental message with a product. In this he may be a pioneer, since his environmental message and his artwork have been intertwined for two decades.
There is now a phrase for this type of commercial enterprise: “cause-related marketing.”
In fact, none other than Steve Creech, vice president of Wyland Worldwide, was a guest speaker last year at the monthly Laguna Beach Business Club. Creech, who coordinates media coverage for Wyland Worldwide and the Wyland Foundation, discussed “cause-related marketing” with an emphasis on “kids and the environment.”
It may be a bit shameless, but it certainly keeps the Wyland empire afloat.
Some other Laguna Beach artists and entrepreneurs also practice cause-related marketing, although not on such grand scale, and questions have been raised about what they actually do that is a public benefit versus promoting their own products and services.
Wyland has been hugely successful in getting his brand recognized all over the world.
Now he may lose one of his most prominent product placements: his name splashed across the license plates of hundreds of thousands of California vehicles.
As they say, what comes around, goes around.