Someone was thinking things over last week and wondered whether we should try a little product placement at the 2015 Book Fair.
“Maybe an insurance company would sponsor the Health section in exchange for a sign with their name on it,” he said. “Or the Food Network could sponsor the Cooking section.”
I had to explain that we had tried that once upon a time. People in the Development Office had called all over town to drum up such support, asking, though my memory must surely be wrong on this, ten bucks for the privilege of putting a sign up saying that the Thusandsuch Travel Company had sponsored our Travel section. We sold exactly two such signs, which was not a very good return on the amount of time the phone calls took. (Maybe it was a hundred dollars per sign, but it still wasn’t considered a great result.)
In fact, so it wouldn’t look so pitiful, a dozen phony company names were fabricated so we could put out more signs. The experiment was not repeated the following year.
As I was telling this sorry tale, I had to pause, blinking. “What’s wrong?” said my unpaid advisor.
“Blinded by inspiration,” I said. “Pardon me whilst I jot this down.”
After all these years, the answer had come to me. We did it all wrong! We had gone to establishments like Nike to ask whether it would like to sponsor the Sports section. But everybody who has heard of Nike knows their shoes are meant for sporting pursuits. What use would it be to them to put up a sign at a book fair? This sort of thing benefits only those who are NOT automatically associated with the product in question.
Therefore, it’s, say, a fast food restaurant or a cigarette company that would want to sponsor the Health section. The money would be well-spent if it started consumers associating them with the product. You need to ask someone not ordinarily related to the subject who wants you to think they are.
Therefore, the logical targets for these subject areas would be
LAW: Just about any Illinois politician
RELIGION: Just about any politician
BOOKS AND AUTHORS: Any celebrity who has just published an autobiography he/she hasn’t actually read yet
CHICAGO: The New Yorker magazine
WOMEN: The NFL players’ union
ROMANCE: The Nightly Business Report
LITERATURE: The Bachelorette
MUSIC: Miley Cyrus
FASHION: Miley Cyrus
SHOW BIZ: I’m going to be hearing from her agent pretty soon
SPORTS: The Cubs and/or White Sox
The possibilities are endless. Of course, when I pass the idea along to the Powers That Are, they may think of better ideas. I WILL have to remind them that it wouldn’t be suitable for me to sponsor any sections, even if the Turkey Liver Pizza recipe makes me a natural to sponsor Cooking.