For those of you who live outside Chicago, or who don't pay attention to strange experiments in marketing not perpetuates by Burger King's Twitter hackers, WBEZ, the local National Public Radio affiliate responsible for such fine programs as This American Life and Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!, is holding its annual membership drive... with a twist. They're calling the campaign "Go Make Babies," an effort (satirical, of course) to encourage WBEZ listeners to procreate and therefore create more NPR listeners. They've even made a GoMakeBabies Facebook app, where a short personality quiz matches you with potential suitors.
The campaign has received some criticism, particularly for putting procreation at the forefront, from LGBTQ fans who feel excluded by the urges of baby-makin' and heteronormative tones of the request, not to mention that the app tends to assume your gender and sexual orientation, even if the app doesn't ask for gender. WBEZ has a set of ads specifically geared toward LGBT listeners to go out in publications soon ("You know who loves rainbows? Infants.") and as WBEZ Director of Marketing Vanessa Harris put it, “I’m sorry. I wish I could hug each and every one of you. We are completely dedicated to you as an audience. We’re in this together.”
This is all well and good, and WBEZ has some fantastic programming, but we think the Go Make Babies campaign could actually benefit from being weirder. If you're encouraging people to be physically and financially responsible for a tiny human, clean its bodily functions and possibly pay for its higher education, you've gotta offer a lot more than just Ira Glass. Here are a few "Sound Opinions" (ba-dum-tishhh) on how to spice it up.
- More incentives. Make it even more absurd than it already is. Instagram that positive pregnancy test? A WBEZ mug can be yours. Send in sonogram pictures proving the existence of your future member of the Curious Class? BAM. You get a free WBEZ tote bag. That first date with your GoMakeBabies prospective co-parent go well? Carl Kasell will personally leave a flirty voicemail to say, "We should do this again sometime." Invite WBEZ staff to your baby shower? You actually become a Wait! Wait! panelist.
- You know how This American Life sometimes has user-submitted theme weeks? Have a "This American Baby" competition. Every couple who decides to take WBEZ up on their totally not serious offer must record a This American Life-style story documenting the pregnancy, from conception 'til the first week home. Most results will be cringeworthy; some will turn out to be very interesting.
- You can actually win a date with a WBEZ staffer. Not necessarily encouraging baby-making, especially if they are married/partnered/don't want to have kids, but you know a whole lot of people will become WBEZ subscribers if they can land a date with Ira Glass. Come on. You would too.