This perhaps comes as no surprise to Americans, immune as we are to the weirdness of housing developments signify their “classiness” by naming streets after Ivy League and Seven Sister colleges, but even England’s universities are getting into the academic marketing game now.
According to an article by Tom Rowley and Lizzie Porter in The Telegraph:
The [University of Oxford] has put its name to a range of sofas, dining tables and interior accessories to capitalise on its links with the Harry Potter films.
Items in the collection – which supposedly each tell “the long history of this prestigious university” – include a striped washbag and a rug with a marble tile pattern. Manufacturers hope the products, which are named after famous Oxford alumni and landmarks, will prove a hit with former students and wealthy Chinese consumers.
A refectory table in the range, called The Oxford Collection, is described as a “Harry Potter-style dining table”. Many of the scenes set in the Great Hall of Hogwarts in the blockbuster wizarding franchise were filmed in Christ Church’s dining hall.
The Harry Potter part is particularly odd here. If the commercial appeal is to the fictional school of wizardry, and not the 900-year-old university in Oxfordshire, why not just make the marketing more direct? Perhaps “wealthy Chinese consumers” would be quite interested in a Slytherin sofa, or something.
As Rowley and Porter hilariously point out, it could be much worse. Americans, if they’re so inclined, can apparently get university decals on their coffins.