Never in history has the person occupying the Oval Office been so marketed, merchandised, packaged, promoted, and, well, exploited. His theme of “change” was reduced to a cliche when adopted by so many marketers, and there’s been a bit of a media backlash against a slew of dubious Obama products. (Even NBC’s “Today” Show devoted a rather negative segment to Obama marketing mania last week)
Yet, as much as I hate the Montel Williams infomercials, and I’d rather see them sell his agenda instead of the “Yes-We-Can” Opener, I can’t get too worked up over the selling of the President. That’s largely because of the breakthrough he represents, of course, but I think the marketing frenzy is also a result of Obama’s authentically “cool” persona, and the fact that he’s far more in tune with pop culture and technology than any previous prez. And the most interesting part to me is that, once again, PR comes out on top. I’d bet the President will do more for Blackberry just by keeping his securely – and publicly – in his grip than his image will for any of the marketers jumping on the Obama brand-wagon.
Today is the start of the lunar Year of the Ox. In Asian astrology, the ox symbolizes calm, hard work, resolve, and tenacity, which seem like reassuring symbols. Chinese astrologists, however, are predicting a tough year. In fact, according to an Associated Press report prominent Asian soothsayers say newly elected US President Barack Obama will have a hard time, partly because he is the 44th American president, 44 being considered a particularly unlucky number.
Yet, despite gloomy predictions, we’ve all seen how a new beginning, coupled with strong leadership and evocative words, can change perception and even alter behavior. It’s no different in the corporate world. People will respond to honesty. Asking the American public – or a team of employees – to sacrifice, pull together, and put aside selfish goals for the good of the greater entity is an excellent first step. My guess is that, against a backdrop of uncertainty, we need not only to hear about tangible fixes, but we also crave inspiration and a common vision. It’s part of true leadership, whether of the country or a small business.
First the Motrin Moms bring down an ad campaign, now an entire city’s a-Twitter over an ill-advised post! The flap over the Ketchum executive who used Twitter to insult Memphis, corporate headquarters of FedEx , which happens to be one of Ketchum’s larger clients (while on the way to deliver a presentation to FedEx execs about digital media, no less) still has me amused. Read details here.
It’s a good lesson about use of digital media and Twitter in particular. It’s an even more painful lesson about big-city myopia. I don’t agree with some of the Adrants comment s blaming thin-skinned Memphians, nor do I buy his lame excuse that his post was “taken out of context” even at 140 characters. But, mostly, it’s offensive because I thought (naively) that new communication platforms like Twitter should make our regional differences less relevant , or at least less divisive.
In my New York Women in Communications discussion group, there’s been lots of talk about how and whether an economic downturn disproportionately affects women and minorities…particularly those of us in editorial, marketing or corporate communications, or advertising. Though communications had undoubtedly been hit, there may be some good news for working women. It seems women have finally hit a milestone of sorts. Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, women remained less than 49 percent of the work force, However, a recent jobs report shows the percentage of female workers has now passed 49 percent and my cross the 50 percent mark for the first time in history.
The Consumer Electronics Show, one of the most well-attended and splashy tech conferences on earth, is decidedly more subdued this year. You don’t have to read the news and blog accounts to feel the difference. On the one hand, it’s easier to get a taxi, a restaurant reservation, or show tickets. It also seems to have separated the serious attendees from the tire-kickers. And, it’s easier to spot the innovations, including Microsoft’s Kodu, Sharp’s Blu-Ray products, Mattel’s Mindflex game, lots of cool Web-based TV, and an emphasis on clean and green tech. Most inspiring to us are the products created with sustainable development in mind…and improved display technologies that will tempt us all to upgrade our TVs. The real impact of the economy, will probably not be felt until next year, since companies are making decisions about 2010 right about now.