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Commentary: Selling Naming Rights

By Tim Schmitt

Buffalo, NY – Here's a news flash for those of you who have failed in efforts to keep up with the business page - economic times are tough.


So I've decided to follow the lead of one of my daughter's favorite area attractions - the Buffalo Zoo - in an attempt to keep pace with a mounting heap of bills.

In case you haven't heard, the zoo is playing proud papa to a trio of new lion cubs these days, two females and a male, each weighing in at about 150 pounds. To announce the births, which took place Feb. 24, the zoo held a coming-out announcement party Monday, complete with an introduction to the cubs' new godparents.

The names, in case you were wondering, have already been selected for the cute little rascals. The first one is Siegel, the second Kelleher and the third, you might have now guessed, is Kahn.

Sorry, that sound you may have heard was my everything bagel coming back.

In a release sent by the zoo, the managing partners of the law firm said, "By partnering with the area's premier family destination, Siegel, Kelleher & Kahn reaffirms our motto, 'Don't settle for less.'"


By placing a call to Mary Rudewicz, the zoo's public relations coordinator, I learned that buying naming rights to animals is nothing new. Apparently, the zoo already has a gorilla named Rich in homage to Buffalo's own Rich Products while an elephant named Buki was also crowned after naming rights were purchased by Burger King.

Rudewicz made it sound as if the practice is just hitting its stride, here and elsewhere.

"We haven't done a lot of this, but other places have," she said. "Zoos will sell just about anything these days. In Syracuse, you can get a bunch of different things, even a park bench."

I'm not trying to squash business ingenuity whenm I say that while selling the naming rights to a baseball field originally seemed awkward, selling off the names of living, breathing organisms is closer to despicable.

At least in my mind.

But the way I see it, what's good for the goose - or the lions in this case - should be good for the whole den, right?

So I've decided, in my infinite wisdom, to offer the middle name of my only daughter to the highest bidder.

And I'm figuring we should do it quickly before she figures out how to properly pronounce the one she's already got.

Her name is Amolia Marjorie and if I do say so myself, she's a pretty cute kid. So listen up, long distance phone companies, neighborhood fast food chains and used car dealerships, get in your bid quickly before those formative school years when her name is called aloud in class.

"Is Amolia Carubba Collision Schmitt here today?" her teacher will beckon whenever she's absent.


Now, I know what you're saying before you spit it out and yes, the thought of removing my late grandmother's name in favor of a few dollars might seem a bit greedy. But how better for my daughter to learn about the cut-throat nature of big business in a dying economic market than to have to explain to her why she's wearing the same bright yellow sweater with a picture of two cars colliding every day? And no, honey, Daddy said you have to leave the hat with the whirling sirens on, at least until we get home. That's part of the deal.

If she isn't business savvy, who will be?

And with the big bucks starting to roll in, why not expand on the idea, incorporating logos on lunch boxes and backpacks into her everyday school life?

"No, it's just peanut butter and jelly," she'll tell her friends in the cafeteria. "It's just sponsored by Applebee's."

"But for dessert, you should really swing by Krispy Kreme for a freshly-made donut."

That's my girl. Whatever her name is.

Listener Commentator Tim Schmitt is a columnist for the Tonawanda News.