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.
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