“Cultivating Thought” is a series of captivating short pieces written by ten noted authors, from Nobel prize winner Toni Morrison to Malcolm Gladwell, printed on Chipolte cups and bags and meant to be read in two minutes. They were the brainchild of Everything is Illuminated writer Jonathan Safran Foer.
In the New York Times, Teddy Wayne looks at “the branding of literature,” companies turning to “literary luminaries to form a collective ‘spokescribe’” as the perfect pitchmen. It can work well for the writers, too. According to Wayne, Moneyball author Michael Lewis told Conan O’Brien on “Conan,” “It pays very well to write a Chipolte cup.”
Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of eyewear company Warby Parker–two names picked from Jack Kerouac’s unpublished journals–told the Times, “We wanted to build a brand that stood for fun, creativity and doing good in the world, and we thought writers best represented that.”
It’s not a match made in corporate heaven for all authors. “Not everyone is willing to be the face (or prose) of a brand,” writes Wayne. Elliott Holt saw her first novel You are One of Them pubbed last year. When a company sought her out to endorse an e-cig (vape, anyone?), she declined.
“‘I felt like being the face of some product would somehow cheapen me as a writer,’ she said, also expressing her reservations about the merchandise’s potential health risks. The offer of $30,000 still gnaws at her, though.”