On Super Bowl Sunday, AOL surprised many with its announcement that it would be acquiring Huffington Post for US $315 million. As expected, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and HuffPo's Arianna Huffington spun the news as positive, but what does the partnership really mean for both brands?
As the world begins to parse out the details, one thing is already clear: Like most brand marriages, the road ahead is likely to be rocky.
Overall, the acquisition is better for AOL, a brand that has lost its way. With HuffPo, AOL gets something very unique to its mix—although it is something that has yet to make some serious cash. AOL's key challenge will be to maintain the spirit and style of Huffington Post, as it integrates it into its business. This is harder than it looks, given its track record. (Ahem, Time Warner.) There’s a big chance that AOL will destroy the HuffPo brand, as it tries to do more with it.
For Huffington Post, being a part of a big, corporate, monolithic brand isn’t a great fit. And with Arianna Huffington focused on more than just Huffington Post—and now AOL’s network of sites as well—it begs the question; can the brand keep its fierce spirit alive? I doubt it.