Jewish World Review Dec. 31, 2004 / 19 Teves, 5765

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Is there anything not for sale? | So tell me, is there anything left that is not for sale?

The trend has been a long time in the making. It began years ago with corporate sponsors buying naming right to sports arenas. Today, you can forget about seeing the White Sox play at Comiskey Park. Now it's, "Honey, find the kids and let's catch a game at U.S. Cellular Field!"

Not long after that, little placards began appearing in the baskets of grocery cart,s advertising everything from shampoo to soup. Now a media group is selling ads that attach to the cart's baby seat. They boast the space can hold 10 small ads directly in front of the shopper's face. It's ideal really   —   assuming the baby vacates the seat, so as not to obstruct the shoppers view, gets out of the cart and walks.

"Hey, what's that toddler doing with a pork loin and Grade A eggs?"

Just when you thought we had reached the saturation point, stores, restaurants and airports began selling ad space on the back of restroom doors. There's nothing that says personal service like sharing a cramped stall with shopping bags, an oversized purse, a bulky winter coat and an invitation to interest-free checking.

The gym I belong to sells ad space on their walls. You may come to the gym feeling fine, but after 30 minutes on a cross-trainer, staring at banners touting services offered by orthopaedic surgeons, you wonder if you shouldn't get an x-ray of that left knee after all. And now, Star Reynolds (she's one of those ladies who chats with Barbara Walters on a TV show called "The View") has broken ground by throwing a wedding that was underwritten by 27-plus corporate sponsors. The bride accepted numerous wedding freebies in exchange for product plugs.

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The couple's corporate goodie bag features an eclectic assortment of goods from Fendi Sunglasses and a Zondervan Thinline Bible, to a Lancome Resurfacing Facial Peel and Take Outs (silicone inserts).

This corporate takeover of everyday life isn't about to change. So since it's here to stay, maybe it's time to stop pushing back the flood waters and dive in head first.

If they want naming rights, how about the kids? Free pre-natal vitamins and epidurals in exchange for children named Phillip Pfizer and Eli Lilly.

Corporate sponsorship of birthday parties may be in order, too. "Pampers invites you to Our Baby's First Birthday Party. Games and party favors by Hasbro, snacks by Pillsbury, after-party clean-up by Tide, Clorox and Shout."

Why not wring some freebies out of those Golden Wedding Anniversaries as well?

"Please join us as we celebrate 50 years of marriage made possible by Edward Jones Investments, Metamucil and Nexium, the little purple pill."

Naturally, this will change those high school and college graduation speeches, too. "As valedictorian, I'd like to thank some very special people for making this day possible: Bic for the ballpoint pens, Starbucks for those late-night lattes and Dell for the laptop. I couldn't have done it without you! Oh yes, Mom and Dad, in case you're tearing up, the facial tissues in front of you are from Kleenex."

OK, so the likelihood of these corporate cash cows trickling down to the little guy is remote. But in the event they do, I'll save some mega-corporation the bother of asking by saying, yes, if you will bankroll the rest of the kids' college years, the side door of the mini-van is definitely for sale.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.


© 2004, Lori Borgman