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The spies who would like you to sponsor them

Flint, Michigan wants to find sponsors for its surveillance cameras.

Ever since Michael Moore's movie Roger and Me, Flint, Michigan has not registered on the list of America's Joyous Top Ten.

So it's not strange, then, that the city of Flint is trying to find sponsors for its surveillance cameras.

Well, not very strange.

City officials have become somewhat excited by the success of a surveillance camera at a significant junction, on the corner of Cecil Drive and Jewel Drive. Now they want more.

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But they claim they don't have enough money, even with the cash they seem to have accumulated from successful drug busts.

So they have hit on the notion that companies will want to have their logos or, who knows, even their messages ("Nike. Just Do It. 'Cept When You Shouldn't") on the outside of the surveillance cameras.

I am all for catching bad people. Or even good people who do bad things. But would I want one of my client companies so closely associated with the catching?

You see, the thought is open to all sorts of controversy and misinterpretation.

Marketing managers might want to choose which cameras they will sponsor. They might only want to be seen in the nicer areas. Which might mean that the nicer areas get all the cameras and the less nice areas get all their cameras stolen from their bedrooms.

And what if you're, say, Carl's Jr. and you sponsor a camera and then one of your restaurants gets held up by bad people? Won't you feel even worse than you would if someone found a human finger in one of your burgers?

It's one thing promising to quench a thirst, fill a craving or rush you with superhuman amounts of sugar so that you believe you're a helicopter. But putting your logo on a surveillance camera promises a rather higher level of success and security.

I am not sure any brand would feel it could really live up to that. And, at the time of writing, no one has yet taken up a sponsorship.

Maybe the folks at Enron would have done it once upon a time.