Through Thom Tinted Lenses

December 20, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — Thom Reese @ 5:30 am

Lately, people have been asking me a simple – yet mildly befuddling – question. What do I want for Christmas. Well, I already have far more neckties than my single-columned neck could ever support; I’m really not all that fond of socks – particularly argyle – and no one seems predisposed to pay my way for a ride on a space shuttle. So, after much contemplation, a medium-sized can of Monster Energy Drink, and an evening’s-long Dr. Who marathon, I came to the conclusion that all I want for Christmas is the Sears Tower.

Shall I explain?

Of course I should.

Recently, the Sears Tower was renamed Willis Tower. The Sears Tower! The tallest building in the U.S. of A. Arguably the tallest building in the world if you talk structure alone and ignore those silly over-ambitious antennas on that Malaysian building. (Can you say, “Over compensating?”) And why was this monument to human ingenuity renamed? Was it for some lofty purpose? Is it now named after a president, a fallen war hero – Michael Jackson? Is this some decades-late tribute to the Die-Hard film franchise? No. It’s named after a British firm leasing space in the building.


I understand commerce. I understand sponsorships, advertising, marketing. I get it. It’s all about money. And despite the bad rap it gets, we all do need money, and we all reeeeally like to get our grubby little mitts on the stuff. In fact, dear reader, if you have a sum that you just don’t care to maintain, I’d be happy to help you ease that burden. But is nothing sacred? Yes, the tower was originally named after a retail company – Sears. But they owned the building, commissioned it to be built, approved the blue prints. They watched like expectant parents as their steel and glass offspring rose toward the heavens, its box-like form seemingly scraping the fringe of the atmosphere. They oo’d and ah’d as they took that first, seemingly endless, elevator ride to the top. They pondered just how long it would take a penny to drop from the observation deck and if, just maybe, it could truly prove fatal to an unlucky passer-by. And besides, couldn’t it be argued that the Sears Tower has attained landmark status? I mean really, this is a very, very tall piece of work.

But, why not make a buck? Capitalism, right? Why fight the wave of the now? Never should I be accused of standing in the way of progressive progressivism. Sponsorship enriches our lives, fuels our race cars, helps us to separate our dollars from our wallets, and in doing so, spurs the economy.

As such, allow me to propose some still-overlooked funding concepts:

Cities could sell sponsorships for street names. Imagine standing at the intersection of Pepsi Lane and Coca-Cola Boulevard.  For an extra fifty grand the sponsors could paint billboard advertisements directly on the asphalt. Even small towns have dozens of streets. There’s a fortune to be made.

How about renaming the cities themselves? Forget the United Center. How about United Illinois? American Airlines Texas. And states! We have fifty of them, all of which could be renamed for profit. With a little ingenuity, we could hack that budget deficit to bits. Maybe Washington State could become Starbucks State. California could become Warner Bros. State. Of course, one must take care in such endeavors. It would not do to have the city of Chevrolet residing within the state of Ford.

How about national monuments? We could have the White Hen Pantry House or Mount Hefty Bag. The country itself? We could lease a new name for the U.S. every four years. Switch ‘em out just like we do presidents. The United States of Taco Bell.

It could work. Really.

And the Earth! We could sponsor the entire globe. It could be, Planet… Hollywood! The galaxy! No, Milky Way candy already got that one. But, the universe. Skittles! We could live in the Skittles Universe!

And here some people thought I’d be satisfied with a necktie for Christmas.

Copyright 2009 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

“Through Thom Tinted Lenses” is posted weekly. If you enjoy these blogs, please check back frequently and share the link with your friends. Comments are welcome.


  1. Lol. The Skittles Universe…sounds fun!

    Comment by Phil — December 20, 2009 @ 8:46 am | Reply

  2. This has been going on for years. Didn’t it start with sport stadiums/arenas? Perhaps Madison Square Garden will be renamed in the spirit of comercialism.

    It would be poetic if some sport stadium/arena was renamed for a drug company considering all the drugs and steroids involved.

    There are plenty of othe galaxies/astronomical phenomenon to be renamed. How about renaming a star cluster the Snowcaps cluster.

    Comment by Rob Gilliam — December 20, 2009 @ 8:52 am | Reply

  3. Well you make some valid points and your sarcasm is delightful. It has all come down to the almighty dollar hasn’t it. The one thing I expected though was for you to say you’d give it back the Sears name. Which I would agree.

    God created us, we created money. So he only ones we have to blame is ourselves for the fall of the world to
    such sudpidity.

    Hear, hear!! Thanks for the enlightening. Now we need answers on how to turn everything back to it orignal state.
    Any takers on that blog?

    Wonderful job.
    Love and blessings

    Comment by Rita Hestand — December 20, 2009 @ 9:00 am | Reply

  4. Very well said and unfortunately it is the way of the world now. The Sears Tower will always be the Sears Tower to me, and most everyone else I know, just like the White Sox play at Comiskey Park…not US Cellular Field.

    Comment by Jane Rankin Duda — December 20, 2009 @ 9:42 am | Reply

  5. Sears/Willis isn’t nearly the tallest. And Petronas was shorter than WTC by structure. but there are several towers in the Eastern Hemisphere (and at least one in the West) that are taller than Willis.

    Burj in Dubai is over 50% taller than Willis, and construction is ongoing (it’s the tallest man-made structure ever built).

    That’s not a bad idea to advertise with streets, but do you really want your cities to look like one gigantic walking advertisement? … Personally, I think I’d rather suffer poverty a dash longer.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go visit Buckingham-Nestlé-Palace

    Comment by xsistor — December 20, 2009 @ 9:49 am | Reply

  6. I might add, if you disregard the projections on both Petronas and Sears, then Petronas is still taller (and Burj is almost twice as tall) 😉

    Comment by xsistor — December 20, 2009 @ 9:52 am | Reply

  7. I am with you let’s get a corporate sponsor for every government building in Washington. Maybe we could get tidy bowl to rename the capitol and then we could flush the congress.

    As for the Sears tower it will always be just that to anyone who has lived in Chicago.

    Comment by Matt — December 20, 2009 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

  8. LOL I will always call it Sears tower and so will the rest of America. I think the only peeps that will call it Willis Tower are the ones ” Leasing ” it.

    Comment by Kelli — December 20, 2009 @ 11:16 pm | Reply

  9. It’s a bit like renaming the Woolworths building or the Chrysler Buildings or even the Empire State building in New York. Even though the first two are named after the men/corporations who commissioned them they are not soley occupied by those companies any more. The names of the buildings are no longer synonymous with those companies or people. They are names in their own right. Take the Empire State building, it’s not named after someone or even a company but the State of New York itself. To rename it would just feel sacrilegeous. The building has meaning in the esthetic and emotional landscape of New York. It’s a part of the history of the place, a landmark and to rename it de-values it and negates that nostalgia and feeling and pride. Renaming the Sears tower is the same thing. I’m not sure companies realise when they rename such historic icons of a cities skyline or even a sports field that has had played a role in a particular sports history and is the home ground of a particular team, that they actually turn people off, annoy them and basically send the message that their brand is more important than people’s memories and emotions about a place. That everything that has become before bares no significance. They do it because they want to share in that history and nostalgia but all they actually do is negate people’s sense of place and belonging.

    Comment by M.E. Staton — December 21, 2009 @ 8:15 am | Reply

  10. I think they should call it “Whatchoo talkin’ about…” Tower

    Comment by @NouveauGeek — December 21, 2009 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

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