Herschbach Puts Smarts On the Line for Sears Ad

Baird Professor of Science Dudley R. Herschbach probably doesn't have the name recognition of, say, Michael Jordan.

But that doesn't seem to bother the Sears clothing chain, which is featuring the Nobel Prize-winning chemist in a television commercial to air nationally over the next few months.

In the commercial, the screen splits and asks whether a Sears shopper is smarter than another shopper. After demonstrating why Sears feels its shoppers possess greater mental faculties, viewer are again asked whether the Sears shopper, located on the left is smarter than the person to the right.

Four different smart people, one of whom is Herschbach, are featured as this second person in different versions of the commercial.

In his ad, Herschbach is shown engulfed in smoke and surrounded by five liquid-filled bulbs. In the background with some esoteric chemical equations.

Herschbach, who teaches the introductory class Chemistry 10, flew to Chicago June 10 to film his segment of the commercial. The Nobel laureate said his portion of the ad took about 10 minutes to film.

"All I had to do was sit on a table, look right and look back," Herschbach said.

The ad has been airing around the country for about two weeks.

"Something a Little Silly"

Herschbach expressed concern in an interview Wednesday that scientists are seen as disconnected from culture, and said he hopes the commercials represent a step away from that image.

"You see only entertainers and athletes in ads," Herschbach said. "I thought it might help if scientists appear."

But he said didn't make the

appearance simply as an ambassador for science."Also, it came at a time when I felt like doingsomething a little silly," Herschbach admitted.

He said he will receive a small sum for theed--up to $3,000, depending on how many times thespot is aired--which he plans to donate to hisresearch fund.

Herschbach, who has not seen the ad, said an"amazing number of people" have called him tocomment on it.

A spontaneous wink he gives at the end of thespot has received particularly rave reviews, hesaid.

Herschbach said he doesn't shop regularly atSears, although he added that he was frequentcustomer when he was first married. He was quickto point out that the commercial does notrepresent a personal endorsement of the company,from either him or Harvard.

The chemist also said that, said from somescience television programs, he has done littleacting since grammar school.

Representative from Sears did not return phonecalls.

The other three versions of the commercialcompare the Sears shopper to an astrophysicistfrom Princeton, a neurosurgeon and a 12-year-oldcomputer whiz