Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Professorial Product Placement

Viewing the latest Lady Gaga video, with its ten product placements, I'm inspired by the thought: Why don't professors do product placements, too?

Actually, this first occurred to me a couple years ago, when I noticed Andy Clark sipping a Monster energy drink while speaking before a large audience at a plenary session of the biennial Tucscon Toward a Science of Consciousness conference. Naturally -- I dare say inevitably -- I thought to myself: "Hey, Monster energy drinks must be cool if Andy Clark is drinking one. I should go out and buy one now! I wonder how much Monster would pay me to drink one at my plenary session?" (Admittedly, my experience at the moment was not sampled by a Hurlburt beeper, so my recollection may be slightly erroneous.)

There are many product placement opportunities for professors: We could display products like drinks or high fashion during classes and public lectures -- with all the respect we command from the high socio-economic status young adult demographic! We could mention products as examples in oral presentations and published articles. ("Suppose that a trolley is rolling out of control toward five people it will inevitably kill unless you push a heavy object over the tracks to stop it. The only available heavy object is a late-model Lexus RX10....") We could even link to them from our blogs.

However, the most dramatic impact would surely come from a tattoo on the face. Thus, I make the following standing offer: For $2,000,000 U.S., I will give over three inches square of real estate on my check, for an appropriately tasteful tattoo by a company that's not too evil. (Evil companies will have to pay a surcharge sufficient to bring the overall utilitarian considerations back into balance.) To preserve what's left of my dignity, I will immediately donate half the amount to Oxfam -- which should, conservatively, save at least ten people's lives. (That seems worth it, doesn't it? Would you want to face the ten people who died because you weren't willing to tattoo your face?)

Now admittedly, the U.C. Riverside / Schwitzgebel brand is probably not realistically worth enough to command that kind of money for an advertisement, but maybe an eminent professor at Harvard or Princeton could do so -- especially given the free press that would no doubt accompany the first professorial facial tattoo advertisement. Peter Singer seems like a natural choice given his high visibility, and with his attitudes toward famine and charity, how could he refuse the offer?


Michael Metzler said...

I recently tried that hair style but my wife was glad when I cut around the ears.

I would pay $250 if the bid gets low. You could put this on e-Bay.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Almost time for my semi-annual haircut!

Anibal said...

One of the dimensions most critical in any marketing effort is the implication or attatchment of the consumer with the brand via, or mediate by, a target model who represents all fundamental characteristics of the product.

I can´t hardly find any target model more respectable than a philosopher.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

An Iranian undergrad at Berkeley once told me that he wanted to go into philosophy because professors were the most respected of all professions and philosophers were the most respected of all professors. I haven't heard from or of him since; perhaps his view changed.

Autumnal Harvest said...

I think it would make more sense for bad philosophy professors to auction off product non-placement:

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Autumnal: Good idea! I see the potential for two distinct revenue streams here.

caroline said...

great idea! now i'm wondering what face tattoo I could get to finance a trip to someplace warm...oh and the oxfam thing too..

Could you pass off a Nike swoosh as a vericose vein? or does that come out of my paycheck??

Obviously, I'm enjoying your blog a lot. the blog i work on, is dabbling in philosophy on its latest post: namely, how has the theory of duelism influenced (western) medicine, and our cultural views of health. thought maybe you and your readers would like to have a look. we'd love to hear your thoughts as well, if you have a moment.

thanks- keep up the good writing,

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the kind words, Caroline. Your blog looks interesting!