Associated Press Article


2 NJ students seeking sponsors for college education

September 4, 2000 at 14:33:39

HADDONFIELD, N.J. (AP) -- Two Haddonfield teens are willing to sell their bodies for a college education.

Luke McCabe and Chris Barrett are offering to be walking billboards for companies that will sponsor them and contribute toward their tuition, room and board.

The pair say that as "spokesguys" they'll put corporate logos on their clothes, wear a company's sunglasses, use their golf clubs, eat their pizza, drink their soda, listen to their music or drive their cars.

"Where we go, you go!" they pledge on their Web site in a pitch to potential advertisers. "Sponsor us. We will eat your cereal even if we're not hungry."

"Say, Pepsi were to sponsor us," Luke said in an interview last week. "We'll get everyone drinking Pepsi, or at least watching us drink Pepsi. We'll have Pepsi parties."

They are willing to promote any products that are geared toward college students, except alcohol and tobacco.

They believe they would be the first corporate college "spokesguys" in the nation. The pair, who will be seniors this year at Haddonfield Memorial High School, came up with the idea while touring potential colleges, and realizing how expensive they are. The University of California at San Diego is the first choice for the friends, who would like to go to the same school. Tuition, room and board there for out-of-state students costs $22,000 a year.

Luke lives in Haddonfield and Chris lives in nearby Cherry Hill -- both pricey Philadelphia suburbs. They acknowledge that they're not poor.

"This isn't a handout," said Chris, 18. "We could go out and get a student loan or scholarship, but we wanted to try something new and innovative. We'll be able to work for (the) company while we're working on our degrees," he said. The University of California at San Diego offers several corporate scholarships, said spokeswoman Pat JaCoby. "They don't have to go out and find their own corporation."

Chris and Luke's Web site offers a "tour" showing the various ways the two could advertise for a company while at college. It begins with pictures of them visiting "Extremely Expensive U."

The pair is seen boarding a plane with the headline, "We will fly on your planes. We are always going somewhere." Later they're seen heading out surfing, with the words "Your Logo Here" superimposed on a surfboard. Another photo shows them in a shiny, blue sports car with the promise that "Your ad will have prime placement."

Luke, 17, has agreed to get a tattoo with a company's logo, but Chris isn't willing to go that far. Carol Kaufman-Scarborough, an associate professor of marketing at Rutgers University-Camden, said their idea is "wonderfully creative," but not without potential problems.

"Suppose I'm Domino's Pizza and I sponsor them, then Weight Watchers come in," she said. "Oftentimes when companies use someone as a corporate spokesperson, they're very careful that they represent a certain kind of image."

Chris and Luke said so far, eight companies have expressed an interest. Most are "dot-com" companies from California. "Once we get enough offers we'll see what company it would be easiest to advertise for, first of all," said Luke. "Then we'll see the offers and money they want to put out."

"We have to put our cards on the table and see what we can do for the companies," said Chris.

Kaufman-Scarborough said companies that want to sponsor the students would need to draw up very careful agreements with them. "They could get a lot of publicity, which would be advantageous for the company, but the downside would be control possibilities," she said. "Has everything really been thought through?" "If I were the student, would I be willing to conform my life to whatever the corporate wishes of the company would be? Maybe they wouldn't want me to be in a frat, or would want me to have a certain major," she said. "They need to think about conformance. It's almost like the corporation would become the parent."

"Certainly, everyone is looking to have their education financed. It's wonderfully creative," said Kaufman-Scarborough. "If all the issues can be ironed out, there's a possibility there'd be really good benefits on both sides."

Chris and Luke said their parents think the idea is innovative. "But also we'll be saving them lots of money," said Chris, "so who wouldn't be happy?"

On The Net: www.chrisandluke.com

(Copyright 2000 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)