This Democratic National Convention is brought to you by…

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The following commentary by Jamie Court was broadcast on the Marketplace radio program on Friday, July 23, 2004 – Click here and scroll down the page to listen the the audio of the commentary.
Host – David Brown: A certain New England-based bank will be getting a lot of bonus advertising next week. You’ll be hearing a lot about the “Fleet Center” site of the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Lots of folks don’t like the way the naming rights game is played – attaching corporate brands to what are commonly thought of as public spaces. But our consumer activist argues at least its more honest than the way the game is played by the political parties.

Commentator – Jamie Court: If NASCAR drivers wear sponsors’ logos on their jumpsuits, shouldn’t John Kerry wear a patch on his lapel for every ONE million dollar convention sponsor?

Well, I suppose with 11 corporate donors giving a million or more each, including IBM, Bank of America and John Hancock Financial Services, there just isn’t room.

Republicans have raised nearly twice what the Democrats have for their party in Madison Square Garden next month. To display the names of all 65 big GOP corporate donors, you’d literally need an elephant.

Still, if football has the Nokia Sugar Bowl, shouldn’t Democrats say the Nextel Pledge of Allegiance? And Republicans present the Verizon Thursday Night Acceptance Speech?

A TV announcer could acknowledge a different donor at every commercial break. “The Democratic Convention Brought to you by Fidelity Investments… The Republican Party, Made Possible By JP Morgan Chase.”

A different CEO could appear on each commercial break. “Hi I’m Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson and we’re proud to sponsor the Democratic convention like the Democrats sponsor our Tomahawk Cruise Missiles”

If there’s any truth in advertising, banners will stream from the rafters at both conventions proclaiming donors’ naming rights to party achievements.

Flags should fly beside the retired jerseys in Boston for “AT&T‘s Telecommunications Deregulation Act” and ” Liberty Mutual’s 1999 Repeal of Laws Preventing Insurers From Owning Brokerages & Banks.”

Banners at the Grand Old Party’s party could declare: “Pfizer‘s Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, No Bulk Discounts Allowed.” “Merrill Lynch, Proud Sponsor of Social Security Privatization.” Or how about, “Disney Presents The FCC.”

At both conventions, the official sponsor will be left for last. That’s Uncle Sam, you and me. You see all $103 million in private contributions to both conventions are tax-deductible. When Kerry and Bush end their acceptance speeches with God Bless America, you’ll know exactly what they

In Los Angeles, this is Jamie Court for Marketplace.
Consumer activist Jamie Court is author of Corporateering

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