Mar 06

Note to Hillary: There’s no ‘I’ in team

Greg Schneiders’ most excellent opinion piece in PR Week answered a question I’ve been wrestling withHillary
for some time: why do I overwhelmingly prefer Obama to Hillary?

As Schneider points out, Hillary’s speeches routinely employ the first person (‘I did this. I did that. I will do this. I will do that’). Obama, on the other hand, is a third person advocate (‘We will do this. We CAN do that together,’ etc.).

Hillary is iconoclastic, idiosyncratic and isolated. Obama seems warm, engaging and collegial by comparison. Coming on the heels of a disastrous administration whose leader was a sheltered, self-centered president who either dismissed criticism or questioned critics’ patriotism, Obama really does seem like a much needed breath of fresh air.

I’ve always been a fan of the ‘we’ word and recoil in disgust on the rare occasions when Peppercom employees opt for first person self aggrandizement in client or prospect meetings. Success, whether it be in business or politics, is a group activity. My best guess is that Schneiders is dead on. Hillary is all about Hillary, and Obama is all about the average American.

There’s no ‘I’ in team, either on Pennsylvania or Madison Avenues. And, that’s why ‘Hill’ will remain on Capitol Hill and not be back in the White House with Bill and Chelsea in tow.

Feb 20

Obama, can you spare a dime?

I’m simultaneously amazed and appalled at extraordinary amount of campaign monies being racked upMoney
every month by Obama, Hillary and McCain. It’s especially galling when one juxtaposes the candidates’ war chests with the very real pain many Americans are suffering right now.

So, here’s a suggestion: Obama, Hillary and McCain (I try to ignore Huckabee, hoping he’ll go away) should tithe a percentage of their monthly campaign contributions to needy causes. Each candidate, for example, could ‘adopt’ street people in the primary states still left to contest and pay for a week’s worth of free soup, clothing, shelter, etc. Each candidate could demonstrate real caring and concern by reaching into their own ‘pockets’ and helping the less fortunate.

Imagine the image and reputation boost if Hillary or Obama did just that in, say, Texas. It might be enough to ensure victory. But, sadly, more money for the poor would mean less money for those horrific, pit bill attack ads. And, no candidate could possibly win without those.

Thanks to Greg Schmalz for the idea.

Feb 08

Youth could hold key vote to presidential election

Steve and Ted discuss the remaining presidential candidates and the impact of young voters on theirRepchatter_logo
candidacy. 

The discussion centers on the candidates efforts to reach the younger generation.  Which candidate creates the most appeal to younger voters?

Are there digital capabilities that can be utilized to reach the masses?  Will there even be enough attendance at the polls from the younger audience to create an impact on the elections?

Jan 10

What car would they drive and what music would be playing on the car radio?”

We usually wrap up our corporate positioning projects by asking internal and external respondents whatCar
an organization might look like if it came to life and, once alive, what car would he/she drive and what music would be playing on the radio. The results help us shape the tone of the subsequent PR campaign (i.e. A response such as “…We’d be Arnold Schwarzenegger driving a Hummer” would dictate a different program tone than, say, “…I see us as Audrey Hepburn tooling around in a Jaguar convertible.”).

So, based upon their images and reputations, I thought I’d adapt the ‘car/music’ game and apply it to the leading presidential candidates. Here goes:

– Hillary Clinton would be wheeling around in a tough, boxy black Volvo. Nothing frilly for Hilly. Just something safe and sturdy that will take her straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And, since Sen. Clinton is so dependent upon the female vote (yet insists she doesn’t play the gal card), she’d be listening to Helen Reddy’s ‘I am woman.’

– Barack Obama would be driving a sleek Lexus. Boasting smooth lines, cool handling, and a sweet turning radius, the Obama luxury car’s radio would be tuned to some sort of upscale jazz from Thelonious Monk.

– John Edwards strikes me as a little man who would be most comfortable in a little car. So, let’s place him behind the wheel of a yellow Volkswagen whose speaker system is blasting some Southern rock anthem like ‘Free bird.’

– John McCain is true-blue American and would be driving a midrange Ford or GMC, the type you rent from Hertz and beat the hell out of for the duration of your trip. McCain’s music would be late 1960s and heavily influenced by the Vietnam War. So, I’m guessing it’s Barry McGuire’s ‘Ballad of the green berets.’

– Rudy Giuliani is a one issue candidate whose car reflects his limitations. It’s a huge Chevy Suburban that can only go in one direction, is impervious to dents and nicks and knows that it looked great for one, brief shining moment seven years ago. The music: either Journey’s ‘Eye of the tiger’ or Pat Benatar’s ‘Love is a battlefield.’

– Mitt Romney reeks of conservatism (not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you). So, Mitt’s driving a conservative, family-focused mini van. Like Mitt, the car’s boring and bland, and colored brown. The music would be something like Debbie Boone’s ‘You light up my life.’

– Mike Huckabee strikes me as a real gladhandler who’s warm and fuzzy on the outside, but struggling to control a hair-trigger temper. (In fact, Huckabee’s the candidate I’d pick as most likely to engage in road rage). Huckabee’s zipping around in a Jeep and his radio station is jumping back-and-forth from evangelical, pro-creation anthems to Rush Limbaugh’s latest diatribes.

Projecting a candidate’s car and music of choice is lots of fun. And the nice thing is there is no right or wrong. So tell me what you think. Do you see the candidates differently? If so, what sort of car/music do you envision?

Jan 09

This is very personal for me

Despite her narrow victory in yesterday’s New Hampshire Democratic Primary, can you believe the mediaHillary
analysis of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s ’emotional breakdown’ in New Hampshire? The one in which she told voters ‘…This is very personal to me?’ Puh-lease. Talk about contrived.

Everything Hillary does is carefully orchestrated to either harden or soften her image and reputation (depending upon the latest polls). ‘Hill’ and her handlers knew voters saw her as an ice queen, so she/they sought an opportunity to unveil her ‘softer, feminine side.’ And, a ’60-something’ New Hampshire woman provided the catalyst with a question asking the Machiavellian Clinton how, as a woman, she was able to juggle so many disparate things and still keep it all together.

The Clintons, like the Bushes, are yesterday’s news. Hillary, and her totally contrived image and reputation machinations, is toast. Obama is weak, with lots of flaws, but Americans are turning to him as a solution to the ‘business as usual’ model that Hillary represents. 

I’m not a political analyst but, in my opinion, Sen. Clinton is a ‘dead candidate walking’ who reminds too many voters of what was and not what could be.

Dec 10

I agree with Andy Young

Former UN Ambassador, Atlanta Mayor and Civil Rights Leader Andrew Young says he wants BarackAndrew_young
Obama to be president, but not until 2016. Young believes Obama is too much of an outsider and has not built the infrastructure necessary to be a successful chief administrator. As Young put it, ‘you can’t run a government all by yourself.’

I agree. In fact, I tell would-be entrepreneurs the same thing when I lecture at colleges and universities. To be successful in business, one has to build an infrastructure of contacts, content and experience. In most instances, entrepreneurial success is dependent upon who you know, who can open doors for you and who can pave the way. Sure, the blood, sweat and tears are all yours but, in our case, we knew the key agencies, the key media and the key influencers. And they all helped when our turn came.

Obama is a Beltway novice. If he should gain the oval office, I believe he’ll be so stressed in building first-time bridges that he won’t be able to accomplish much of anything. America needs someone who knows the ropes, has an infrastructure in place and can effect change. I’m not saying Hillary’s that person. But, I agree with Andy Young that it sure isn’t Obama.

Oct 11

I don’t trust people who wear their religion or patriotism on their sleeve (or lapel)

The Barack Obama American flag lapel crisis would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad. Talk about a tempest inBrk
a teapot. The ‘holier than thou’ Right Wing is truly making a mountain out of the proverbial molehill with this non-event.

I’ve seen too many examples of too many chest thumpers who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Just think of all the outspoken Evangelical Christian types who’ve decried homosexuality only to have gotten caught in flagrante delicto with a same sex partner. The same goes for the American flag wavers who are freaking out about Obama’s flag-free lapel.

Give me a break. Patriotism has nothing to do with wearing lapels and everything to do with how one feels and acts.

I’m not an Obama fan, but I support his right to wear a lapel (or not). This issue is a non-issue and says more about the image and reputation of the attackers than the attackee.

Jun 21

Two smart image moves

It isn’t often that one major politician makes a smart image move. Today, we can point to two.

Michael Bloomberg’s disengagement from the Republican Party makes perfect sense and positions him beautifully to become the Ross Perot of the 2008 election. Unlike his predominantly right-wing, pro-war party, Bloomberg has proven to be his own man on various issues. He’s also been a superior NYC mayor. And, his bottomless pockets ensure he’ll be able to spend and spend to support his candidacy.

Hillary Clinton’s new commercial to announce her official campaign song is outstanding in so many ways. First, it parodies the final minutes of the final Sopranos episode that has the whole country talking. More importantly, though, it’s funny. And ‘funny’ and ‘Hillary Clinton’ aren’t words that are necessarily connected very often.

So, hats off to Bloomberg and Clinton for their smart image moves. That said, my money is still on Al Gore to come out of nowhere and run away with the election.


May 04

What’s wrong with this picture —- Take two

Am I the only one who, upon seeing the front page photograph of the 10 Republican Party presidential hopefuls, thought: ‘Ah, hello, is this the General Motors board of Debate_2
directors’? Each candidate is an aging, White guy.

The Republican Party has zero diversity and little originality in its offerings. And, while the aging white guys all applaud the rollback of Roe v. Wade and love what’s happening in Iraq, they are dangerously out of touch with the way most Americans think.

The right-wing Christian fundamentalist faction may embrace these dudes, but the majority of Americans will reject the ultimate candidate as being irrelevant and representative of what used to be and not what is and will be. The Republicans need an image overhaul…pronto.

Apr 16

Here’s a no brainer: your average Republican is out of touch

The latest Pew Research Center survey shows that viewers of "The Daily Show" and "Colbert" and Colbert_2 readers of daily newspapers are the most knowledgeable about current events while those who watch Fox know the least.

The survey, the first of its kind since 1989, showed fewer people today could identify the vice president (only 69 percent knew of Dick Cheney as opposed to 74 percent being aware of Dan Quayle in ’89. Whether Quayle himself was ever ‘aware’ is debatable). That said, the 31 percent of current respondents unable to identify Cheney may have just been in denial.

Men did better than women in the survey and older Americans fared better than their younger counterparts (the latter finding is no surprise whatsoever since so many of my son and daughter’s friends strike me as being totally out of touch with current events).

And, last but not least, Democratic respondents outclassed their Republican peers in terms of awareness. Again, this may be just mass denial on the part of the latter. After all, if I was a Republican, I’d try to erase just about everything in my memory banks prior to 2000.

Thanks to Bob Reed for the idea.