Advertising Age

June 08, 2006


Dead Presidents Will Not Shill

Mount Rushmore Says No to Proshade Promo

NEW YORK ( -- Having young, hip celebrities wear a product is one way to market it to the public, but four dead presidents?

Proshade, a 3-year-old consumer-eyewear company headquartered in Florida, offered to pay $4 million to adorn the presidential faces on the Mount Rushmore National Monument with larger-than-life Proshade visors.

Not surprisingly, the offer was declined.

'Icon of America'
Mount Rushmore "is a national monument, an icon of America," said Gerard Baker, the superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Monument. "I don't want to put anything on those to deviate from what they mean. ... I will not make it commercial."

That means visitors this summer will not be seeing the busts o
f George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln in the colorful visors.

While not the first advertising offer to come to the desk of the National Park Service, this was definitely the first of its kind.

"We get offers all the
time as far as advertising goes," said Judy Olsen, chief of interpretation and visitor services and the public information officer for the Mount Rushmore National Monument. "Mount Rushmore is very popular for advertisers."

Ms. Olsen hears around a dozen ul
timately unsuccessful offers each year for the famous landmark, including one two years ago from a magician who wanted to make the monument disappear.

Preservation effort
Proshade's campaign, while bringing visibility to the company's product, was also intended to draw attention to the need to preserve the monument during its 65th anniversary year, Proshade President Richard Lawrence said.

"Obviously there's a commercial angle, but there's another side to it," Mr. Lawrence said. "We wanted to do something that would give back to the system."

While there are those that may see the proposal as "crass and commercial," Mr. Lawrence said he was truly trying to bring together a philanthropic and commercial effort.

"It's an interesting way of bringing the private sector together with the government to do some unique problem solving about preservation of our precious national assets, benefiting both parties," he said.

Proshade plans to explore other options and partnerships beyond Mount Rushmore to bring visibility to its new product, a three-in-one visor, eyeglass case and lanyard. Watch out, Lady Liberty.