Saturday, October 08, 2005

Keeping the Brand Clean

An intriguing essay on the admissions process at Harvard in the New Yorker. Here's just one bit:

I once had a conversation with someone who worked for an advertising agency that represented one of the big luxury automobile brands. He said that he was worried that his client’s new lower-priced line was being bought disproportionately by black women. He insisted that he did not mean this in a racist way. It was just a fact, he said. Black women would destroy the brand’s cachet. It was his job to protect his client from the attentions of the socially undesirable.

This is, in no small part, what Ivy League admissions directors do. They are in the luxury-brand-management business, and “The Chosen,” in the end, is a testament to just how well the brand managers in Cambridge, New Haven, and Princeton have done their job in the past seventy-five years. In the nineteentwenties, when Harvard tried to figure out how many Jews they had on campus, the admissions office scoured student records and assigned each suspected Jew the designation j1 (for someone who was “conclusively Jewish”), j2 (where the “preponderance of evidence” pointed to Jewishness), or j3 (where Jewishness was a “possibility”). In the branding world, this is called customer segmentation. In the Second World War, as Yale faced plummeting enrollment and revenues, it continued to turn down qualified Jewish applicants.

1 comment:

zelda1 said...

I think, although I'm not sure, but I think this is what my ever-so-intelligent professor from Harvard means when he says that there should only be two universities per state and that not everyone should have access to higher education, that some people have to work at the McDonalds and so forth and that is what he hates about Arkansas is that people who have no buisness being in the university are there and it annoys him. I wonder if he means people like me, non traditionals, or people like my friend who takes a little longer to read the paragraphy. Not sure, but that's what's fucked about our society, too many lily white men sitting on boards and being in charge of the gate. When are they going to learn, we don't want no stinking gate keepers.