Jun 07

Give the cute one his props

Guest Post By Julie Farin (@JulieFarin)


June 7
In a White House ceremony recently, Paul McCartney was awarded the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, which was created by the Library of Congress to honor artists “whose creative output transcends distinctions between musical styles and idioms, bringing diverse listeners together and fostering mutual understanding and appreciation.” Part of this honor recognizes McCartney for making “an impact far beyond music through his humanitarianism and activism around the world, which are emblematic of the spirit of the Gershwin Prize.”

A writer for NPR Music, Tom Cole, questions whether Sir Paul actually deserved this honor in the absence of his equally talented songwriting partner John Lennon, since The Beatles music catalog is comprised predominantly (with a few exceptions) of Lennon/McCartney tunes.  Cole challenges us to name a post-Beatles McCartney song that “holds even a dim candle to what they wrote together.” Furthermore, he feels that Lennon was the true humanitarian and activist, not McCartney, saying it’s unfair that “the Library’s website does not even mention John Lennon’s name.” 

While Lennon’s activism during the Vietnam era has been well-documented, most notably his 1969 anthem “Give Peace a Chance” still being used today in anti-war rallies, McCartney has also stood behind causes he feels strongly about, such as Animal Rights and Meat-Free Mondays.

Regarding his post-Beatles body of work, I would argue that “Live & Let Die,” “Here Today” (which he wrote for Lennon in 1982 and still performs in concert) and “Maybe I’m Amazed” are among McCartney’s finest compositions. Although the Library of Congress website might not have mentioned Lennon by name, President Barack Obama certainly made sure he did on the night McCartney was honored.

John Lennon has always been my favorite Beatle. But no one is implying that Lennon was less of a songwriter than McCartney by bestowing this honor on Sir Paul, who turns 68 on June 18th. And while the work McCartney has produced and continues to produce in the 40 years since the Beatles dismantled may not be everyone’s cuppa English tea, even the staunchest Macca foe would have to admit that the man and his music have staying power. Let’s see if anyone remembers Lady Gaga 40 years from now.

“In Performance at the White House” airs on PBS July 28 at 8 pm ET/PT.

Jul 01

Will hope once again trump experience?

I just caught a fascinating C-Span retrospective on past presidential elections that raised an interestingBarack_and_mccain question: will the upcoming national election parallel the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon epic?

The similarities are striking.

Both battles featured a Republican candidate who played the ‘experience’ card and a Democratic contender whose message was ‘hope.’

Forty-eight years ago, Richard M. Nixon had just finished two terms as Eisenhower’s vice president, briefly ‘served’ as chief commander while Ike convalesced from a heart attack and famously ‘out-bullied’ Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in the so-called kitchen debate.

Heading into the November election, John McCain can point to decades of service in the Senate, a distinguished military career and a perception of a politician who votes his beliefs as opposed to the party line.

In 1960, JFK was portrayed as an inexperienced lightweight, despite his war record and years of service in both the House and Senate.

Today, Barack Obama finds himself in a similar position, courtesy of the Hillary and McCain propaganda machines.

Nixon and McCain were the safe, experienced candidates. Kennedy and Obama offered hope, and made the case that America could do much, much better than it had in the recent past.

Kennedy won because, in face-to-face confrontations with Nixon, he projected confidence. That image, coupled with his message of hope, carried the day. Obama’s moment of truth will come in face-to-face debates with McCain this Fall.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the upcoming debates will be the most pivotal in recent history. And, it will all come down to which candidate projects the more presidential image. Will hope once again trump experience? Let the games begin. Lights! Camera! Action!

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?

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.