Exclusive Non-Naming Rights Still Available

The Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has received an unprecedented gift totaling $85 million from a small group of alumni …. This innovative partnership provides a naming gift that will preserve the Wisconsin name for at least 20 years. During that time, the school will not be named for a single donor or entity.University of Wisconsin press release

“John Ochwat” – $10,000,000

This is the ne plus ultra of personal identities. It’s not just a name, it’s a unique opportunity in the personal brandosphere. The Ochwat brand is so uncommon, its spelling remains unequalled in every major language—making intellectual property enforcement a breeze. Yet the name’s phonetic properties are remarkably fungible, allowing a dizzying variety of pronunciation and spelling opportunities!

Note: Bidding for this is expected to be keen, since the Associated Kumquat Growers and the Society for Sanity in Spelling and Pronunciation both view “Ochwat” as crucial to the success of their strategic plans.

Ochwat family residence – $1,000,000

house_from_satelliteBe the envy of corporate marketers everywhere by owning 20-year exclusive rights to a blank plaque in front of the tastefully appointed Ochwat family home in the Portland suburbs. Imagine your brand’s return on investment among influential taste-makers such as public interest research groups, children selling magazine subscriptions and Girl Scout Cookies, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Make sure to lock in the $100,000 upgrade, which includes one-of-a-kind non-naming rights to the home’s roof, visible on Google Earth, Microsoft Terraserver, and numerous government satellites.

1997 Honda Accord – $50,000

The Honda Accord is such a coveted asset, it frequently appears on top-10 lists of most stolen automobiles. And despite the car’s Honda logos, and the license plate frames from Wisniewski Auto Body, nothing says anonymity like an 11-year-old four-door sedan with slight rear-bumper damage. Imagine your pride when saying to one of your competitors, “See that car you failed to notice? We own the non-naming rights to it.”

1987 Fuji Suncrest bicycle – $10,000

fuji_suncrestGreen is the new black, and nothing says green like a 21-year-old champagne-and rust-colored mountain bike. Those of you promoting your corporate social responsibility message should also consider the Brand Removal and Photograph Package. For only $2,000, you’ll receive high-resolution commemorative photos of this semi-derelict bicycle with its stickers removed, and the rights to let these images grace your next annual report. Not only will you score major sustainability points by not buying plaques or signage, such an authentic, forward-thinking green image is sure to make stockholders and environmentalists swoon with delight.

First-born child – $500,000

Though “John Ochwat” and the Ochwat family home, car and bicycle are undoubtedly prime non-naming opportunities, the bottom line is that all are depreciating assets. Yet after your first two-decade sponsorship of the Ochwats’ first-born child, your asset will only be in his late 20s—and just entering his prime branding years.

Consider your corporation’s proud legacy if you secure the rights to the Ochwat first-born now: With guaranteed preemptive bidding rights when the contract comes up for renewal, you could own the rights for the next 60, 80—or who knows, even 100 years.

Miscellaneous Opportunities – Negotiable

Many of these tempting opportunities will only be available for a short time, and the prices they’ll likely fetch will preclude all but the most aggressive Fortune 500 corporations. But to entice small businesses to partake of this great opportunity, we’re also entertaining a la carte bids on individual Ochwat assets (lawn statuary, bowling trophies, urinals). Make us an offer: the possibilities for corporate non-expression are practically limitless!

Money for Nothing

The MacArthur Fellows Program (sometimes known as the “genius grant”) never goes to the people I think it should. Of course I always think it should go to me, and not only because with a no-strings gift of $500,000, I could buy a lot of beer.

Consider my impressive credentials:

– I failed only one class: 9th grade art, spring semester
– I’m pushing the scientific boundaries of vending machine research
– I never tattooed an ex-girlfriend’s name on my body
– I understand the nuances of the dangling modifier

But (the last two paragraphs notwithstanding), this post isn’t about me. It’s about Michael Knetter, my nominee for the 2008 MacArthur Fellowship. Who’s Michael Knetter?

Knetter is the dean of the University of Wisconsin Business School. As Stephen Levitt points out in his Freakonomics blog, Knetter raised $85 million for the school by promising not to name it for the next 20 years. Levitt notes:

Apparently, Knetter is now offering a full slate of objects not to name at the business school. For $50,000, you can have a classroom not named after you. For $5,000, you can not have your name on a plaque in the entryway to the building. For those of you with a little less to give, $50 will guarantee that the urinal of your choice will go unnamed.


More sustainable, too: Think of all those plaques and signage that don’t need to be produced!

I’m sure this masterstroke will immortalize Michael Knetter … just think: with the MacArthur Grant of $500,000, Knetter’s name could not appear on 10,000 urinals!