Multinational Monitor

NOV/DEC 2007
VOL 29 No. 5


Neither Honest Nor Trustworthy: The 10 Worst Corporations of 2007
by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

High Flyers and the Grounding of Equality
by Samuel Bollier

The Pickens Water Play
by Andrew Wheat

Sin and Society Part III
by Edward Alsworth Ross


How Wall Street's Political Triumph Led to Economic Crisis
an interview with Robert Kuttner

How Eliminating School Fees Helped 2 Million Kenyan Kids Go to School
an interview with oil Mary Njoroge


Behind the Lines

Cops on the Corporate Crime Beat

The Front
Norway Nixes World Bank | Food Prices Boil Over

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Greed At a Glance

Commercial Alert

Names In the News


Commercial Alert

No-Name Naming Rights

Bucking the omnipresent trend to sell naming rights to university buildings, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business announced in November that it had received $85 million to not be renamed.

Thirteen Wisconsin alumni donors - who each gave at least $5 million to join the partnership - together gave the biggest donation in university history on the condition that the business school not be named for any donor for at least 20 years.

"It sends a message that people can band together for a common cause and they don't need a lot of recognition," donor Ab Nicholas told the Associated Press. "It's sort of selfless and yet it isn't because the people giving money feel good about it."

Michael Knetter, dean of Wisconsin's business school, originally tried the traditional route, asking donors for $50 million in exchange for naming rights. When he wasn't successful, Knetter changed tactics.

Business schools at the University of Michigan, the University of Washington and the University of Hawaii are among the schools renamed every few years in recognition of sizable one-time donations. Terry Hartle, senior vice president for the American Council on Education, told the AP that many public universities are marketing naming rights to law, business and medical schools to make up for drops in tax support. Of the Wisconsin donation he said, "I don't know of another case where anything remotely like this has taken place and I hope it is the start of a trend. It's the most interesting development in philanthropy I've seen in the last year."

Food for Thought

In response to parental pressure, McDonald's has removed its logo from report card covers in Seminole County, Florida. In December, students had carried their report cards home in envelopes featuring a smiling Ronald McDonald and a promotion offering a free McDonald's Happy Meal as a prize for good grades, behavior or attendance.

The logo was part of a new promotional agreement between McDonald's and the Seminole County school district, but the rewards program had been in place in one form or another for more than 10 years. Even so, some parents were not pleased to see the ubiquitous McDonald's character on their children's report card jacket.

Seminole County school district spokeswoman Regina Klaers said the rewards had never been an issue before. "As long as we've been doing it, it has never come to a head like this … the letter from one parent was the only complaint we've had," she told AdWeek.

In July 2007, McDonald's was one of 11 companies that agreed to limit advertising to children under 12 to food and snacks that meet certain nutritional guidelines, or ban the advertising completely.

McDonald's spokesman Bill Whitman says McDonald's has "requested that the Seminole County school board remove the logo from the report card jackets" because of parental concerns.

However, McDonald's "Made the Grade" program, which offers the free Happy Meal, remains in place.

McDonald's isn't the first to foray into Florida elementary schools. The "Made the Grade" program was run in Seminole County for 10 years by Pizza Hut, before it pulled out of the contract and the school district approached McDonald's. And doughnut-maker Krispy Kreme once offered Florida students a free doughnut for every A on their report cards.

Selling Surgery

If drugs can be advertised directly to consumers, why not medical devices? That light bulb apparently went on over the head of someone working for Cordis Corporation, maker of the Cypher heart stent.

Cordis has unveiled a 60-second commercial that displays the words, "when your arteries narrow, so does your life," and then features images of men and women enjoying their golden years by swimming, horseback riding and working out. While the viewer finishes the commercial without having been told what a stent is (a tiny scaffold used to prop open arteries) or how it is implanted (surgically), they are instructed that the stent promises to relieve chest pain and shortness of breath. The marketing campaign also includes print ads in national newspapers and magazines.

When it was introduced in 2003, the Cypher stent was the first on the market to be drug-coated, intended to make it more effective in keeping arteries open and preventing clots. But safety concerns rose to light after reports suggested that Cypher, along with its rival Taxus from Boston Scientific, may actually cause clots years after implantation. Sales of the Cypher and Taxus stents fell by more than $1 billion.

Now, Cordis is eager for its stent to make a comeback. "We think we have a good safety story to tell, and we want to encourage heart patients to talk about it with their doctors," Dr. David E. Kandzari, chief medical officer at Cordis, told the New York Times. "And we want them to know Cypher's track record when newer, less proven stents reach the market."

Medtronic and Abbott Laboratories are expected to start marketing their own drug-coated stents in 2008 - which may mean consumers are in for medical device advertising like never before.

- Jennifer Wedekind


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