Thursday, May 19, 2016

3M is NOT science

Sports, particularly in the US never seems to reach a limit in its attempts to increasingly commercialize itself. Stadiums used to have names with a history behind them, but now they are all named after corporate sponsors. And then there are all the "official" products, especially with NFL football, which range from the mundane (Courtyard by Marriott is the official hotel) to the strange (Bridgestone is the official tire - this is football, not auto racing) to the truly bizarre (Covergirl is the official beauty product line. Seriously? How many NFL players use Covergirl?)

But yesterday saw a new level of commercialization that first had me laughing but then got me quite made: 3M is now the "Official Science Partner" of the Minnesota Vikings. What does that even mean? Details are few, but it does appear that 3M's line of bandages will be available at the first aid stations around the stadium, and of course they get a banner in the stadium but beyond that, not much else is explained.

But think about this further. 3M ≠ science. Official Science Partner? How can someone or some company suddenly claim "science" for themselves and then use it for commercial gain? With the other "official" products and services that the league and teams have, the "official" product or service is something that the company actually sells. 3M, however, does not sell science. They sell Post-It notes and sticky tapes and cleaning supplies and respirators and tens of thousands of other products, but they do not sell science. Call their toll-free number (1-800-3MHELPS) and tell that you want to buy some science and could they forward you to the proper salesperson.

Science is not for sale [1] and no one is in charge of selling it. So for 3M to suddenly equate itself with science and then leverage it for profit is maddening. How long until this cashing in with the name of science spreads to other sports, not just with a single team, but at a league level? What if Monsanto wanted to the be official science partner to the Premier League? Or if Amgen wanted to be the official science partner to cycling? (Oh wait, they already are [2].) To cloak a company within the good cloth of science is just too much for me.

Unfortunately, science as a term has no legitimate defenders. I can't see any legal recourse available. Even showing standing would be a nightmare, let alone damages. Short of an organized social media campaign putting pressure on the Vikings and/or 3M, I think this is the future and we are stuck with it.

[1] Publishers of non-open-access journals make me think otherwise at times

[2] I'm looking at you, Lance Armstrong.

Previous Years

May 19, 2014 - A Portfolio of Biobased PE and PP

May 19, 2010 - Back in the Office

May 19, 2009 - Accelerated aging gets even faster

No comments: