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September 03, 2008

The Hallowed Halls of General Hospital

CambridgeCambridge University, former home to Isaac Newton and Christopher Wren, has decided it needs more of the common touch, and seeks to extend its brand in unconventional places. According to the Associated Press, Cambridge has approached producers of the soap operas EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, in the hopes of including the university in the plot.

Lest you think Cambridge is trying to cash in on its 800 years of brand equity through a lucrative licensing deal, the real motivation seems to be the desire to attract students of more diverse backgrounds. "We're very keen to attract the brightest and best students regardless of their background," the AP quotes Cambridge spokesperson George Hayman. "One of the better ways of communicating directly with potential students is to talk to them through the soaps and other programs they watch." (The rather condescending implication seeming to be that the great families of Cambridge don’t park themselves in front of the tele watching soaps.)

And while Harvard seems happy with the memory of Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal wandering its quadrangles, Cambridge has also petitioned "Doctor Who" to choose the university for the show’s backdrop. More here.

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Brand extensions are all around us — clothing from the Sierra Club, furniture polish from Steinway and, yes, even the kitchen sink from Jacuzzi. TippingSprung, a New York-based brand-extension consultancy, publishes an annual survey on brand extensions with Brandweek. If you spot a noteworthy extension for the blog or survey, email us.

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