And Here I Thought Corporations were Rational

Ken Houghton lowers the level of discourse at AB by discussing the career of a porn star other than Adam West.

One of the primary tenets of economic theory is that corporations believe in nothing other than profits. Well, it’s not quite that stark—we use phrases such as “utility maximization,” “cost minimization,” and the like—but the basic idea is that corporations, even more than individuals (silly humans!), have as their sole target maximizing profits.

So I’m a bit confused by the Vancouver Sun’s poorly-edited* obituary for Marilyn Chambers.

Let’s put the timeline together:

  1. Chambers “began her onscreen career as an Ivory Snow detergent model.”
  2. Chambers made Behind the Green Door, released in 1972.
  3. The movie “prompted a run on boxes of Ivory Snow, which featured a photo of Chambers.”

    So far I follow this: actress tries a different role, reaches a whole new audience, and sales of her previous works soar. (Think Kristin Chenoweth going from Broadway to television. Or maybe not.) What I don’t understand is the reaction:

  4. [T]he scandal produced “a Marilyn Chambers clause in all modeling contracts, saying that you can never have posed topless or nude or been in any kind of adult film or Playboy or anything like that.”

Let’s review. MKarilyn Chambers (h/t Tony C.) causes a major spike in sales of Ivory Snow detergent. Better yet, some of those people probably aren’t even going to open the box, so they’re going to have to buy another detergent as well—and, even time they have to go shopping, they’re going to see that Ivory Snow detergent and, if they need detergent, they’ll have an identification with it.

UPDATE: Robert, in comments, notes that this may be a rational act, if we assume normal market segmentation and a lack of loyalty on the part of the spurt of buying.

I believe this is what economists refer to as a “win-win” situation.

So why would the result be a “business decision” specifically banning the possibility of developing such cross-marketing potential in the future?

*I say poorly edited because on things such as that the last sentence of paragraph three is “The L.A. County coroner is examining the cause of death, but a spokesman said foul play is not suspected.” and the closing of paragraph four is “The cause of death is under investigation but foul play was not suspected and an autopsy is pending,” which strikes as the equivalent of giving the reader a sense of deja vu through stereotomy glasses.

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