What would Einstein put on his bagel…

… if cholesterol-busting butter substitutes were available in the 1940s?

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Would he choose Smart Balance, the margarine spread developed at Brandeis University (the school he helped launch with his fundraising efforts) or would he be wooed by Lee Iacocca’s Olivio?

I analyze Brandeis U’s stunning new rebranding effort in the Boston Herald, questioning why America’s brightest high school students might be tantalized by a product that normally attracts 40 year olds.

Yes, that’s right. The new Brandeis Web site brags about its historical ties to Einstein, composer Leonard Bernstein and FDR’s better half, Eleanor Roosevelt — and then proceeds to boast about its historic role in bringing a new margarine to the marketplace.

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For the sake of research, I tried Smart Balance and found it to be quite tasty. But not drastically different than the Olivio that usually dominates the butter tray in my fridge. No need to switch now.

My palate aside, why would Brandeis — which doesn’t let any stupid kids get within a 10 mile radius — even have to bother branding itself as “Smart From The Start?” Does Harvard or Yale keep reminding us how smart they are?

“Why does Harvard include the word ‘truth’ on every sweatshirt and t-shirt that they sell?” counters spokeswoman Lorna Miles, referring to Hah-vahd’s “Veritas” slogan in their logo.

The Brandeis logo also clings to the truth, incorporating the Hebrew word “Emet” in their logo.

An argument can be made that marketing is all about endless repetition, that even Coke feels compelled to call itself “The Real Thing” and Milk feels insecure enough to keep advertising with those dreadful cream mustaches.

But back to the mindset of 17 year olds. Are they really gonna care about old people food?

Why not brag about being the school that educated actress Debra Messing, offering all incoming freshman a chance in a lottery to get her dorm room? How about offering a Sociology course on the historical impact of “Will & Grace?”

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What about bragging that your campus is home to Rachel Cohen, the imaginary Jewish friend of cartoon Lisa Simpson?

Or boast that Pat Buchanan doesn’t respect you because you don’t have a football team?

Brandeis, if you like these ideas, I am available as a branding consultant.

For all you alumni of other colleges, if your school had an official margarine, what would it be?

Also, who is the Debra Messing or Albert Einstein of your alma mater?

**

UPDATE: WHAT DO THE ADVERTISING GURUS THINK?

Adweek’s David Gianatasio hypothesizes that Einstein would have gone for cream cheese or Nutella slathered on an Einstein Bros. bagel.

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