Tag Archives: President Obama

The Growth Of Disrespect Between Two Ferns?

With over 12 Million views in about a day, there is no doubt that President Barack Obama’s appearance on Zach Galifianakis’ BETWEEN TWO FERNS was a bold move by a savvy Administration. The Administration has always been forward-thinking and intelligent in the way they have reached out to a connected generation. Until Ellen’s Tweet during the Oscars, Obama had the most re-tweeted entries – maybe this video will have some record-breaking implications.  One thing it does challenge is the norms for public-facing relations with a President.


BETWEEN TWO FERNS on Funny or Die is well established as an off-beat comedic interview format that heavily relies on Galifianakis’ brand of comedy. It is certainly a great platform for the Administration to reach a constituency that they might not otherwise easily be reached in the communication of healthcare benefits. For that reason, it was a win.  But, it was bizarre to see a President put himself in a position to be disrespected in any way.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the humor.  I laughed a couple of times knowing that the President was treated with the same disrespect as every other guest on the show. President Obama also showed some strong comedic chops as well – only breaking a smile once. It was for comedy’s sake and it was successful in that respect. It just comes down to interpretation by the target audience as well as others’ response to that treatment of the office.

The end goal is driving healthcare for a younger, healthier demographic that is integral to the program’s success. The Administration deserves credit for being resourceful and smart in their placement. It remains to be seen whether the healthcare registrations will come at a high enough rate to quell any concerns or bad buzz about the treatment of the office. Overall, I think it was a solid get, but it certainly opens the Administration and the aura of the President in the future to distraction.  The worst would be is if it is the opening of the floodgates of disrespect for the office.

7-11 Creates Fun Chill Without Causing Brain Freeze

Some brands have the ability to inherently place a flag in a date that makes sense for marketing purposes.  We’ve covered McDonald’s fries on 11.11.11 and now we’ve come to 7.11.  7-Eleven convenience stores have gone all Summer silly to celebrate Slurpees on 7.11 and it seems they’ve done a good job at having fun with a seasonal marketing campaign.


The 7-Eleven folks have created a number of pieces to be able to celebrate 7-Eleven day on 7.11 – from a dance tutorial to downloadable party favors to a bizarre “motivational” chinchilla. It all forms a bit of silliness that actually makes sense for the brand. It has never taken itself too seriously and has had fun with the Slurpee product in the past.  A big recent example that comes to mind is Slurpee Summit 2010 – where they latched on to the political scrum between President Obama and Republicans with a Purple For The People Slurpee and a tour from Dallas to Washington D.C.

SO, 7-Eleven has set up what seems to be a solid agile team for both the stores and their Slurpees. But what issues might there be with their preparation for 7.11.13 and the 7-Eleven Dance Party?

The set up is consistent with the brand with a fun site and campaign announcing free Slurpees and all the bits to make up a party.  The party prep is nothing new, but 7-Eleven has put their spin on it – for better or for worse. Starting with the dance video, it is good fun to see a dance begun by brain freeze and the kaleidoscopic colors, unicorns & rainbows and a decent dance tune. I’m still trying to figure out if the dancer in the gold shorts falls under the better or worse category, but one thing is certain – it is consistent with the brand.

The microsite does include a “how to” dance video and entices fans to create their own dance video and post them online with the hash-tag #Slurpeedance, but who knows how many will do it. Where they might have gone astray with this is that they showed the behind-the-scenes making of for the dance video – which beyond removing some of the magic of the video, shows that this wasn’t a simple production that anyone could do.  It almost turns people off to do their own thing. Perhaps that BTS video would have been better served as a follow-up piece to help keep the tail going on the campaign.

We are already seeing #Overkill and its no surprise that 7-Eleven has introduced  a silly one here – with Laura Gordon, vice president of marketing and brand innovation stating, “We promised an #Awesummer this year with more fun, more free stuff and more surprises, and summer is far from over. There’s lots more to come.” Awesummer? Really? Perhaps the good thing is that they are also doing programming to drag this through the Summer rather than just 7.11 with an app that provides specials throughout the coming months.

The only elements that are questionable are: the Nikki Reed beach bash on 7.9 that seemed to have few people in attendance (much less stars); and, the fact that the free Slurpees are only available on 7.11 from 11AM-7PM (shouldn’t it be the other way around?)

When you look at the whole, the 7-Eleven team has done a good job at being consistent in their brand and being able to pounce when the timing is right. Shouldn’t they now be working to make 7.11 a national holiday?

Don’t forget to pick up your free Slurpee and remember to pace yourself lest you get brain freeze!

C’mon! It’s More Challenging To Manage Communications For POTUS.

Sadly, in this day and age, everything a large entity does can be turned to a competitor’s advantage. While corporate communications can often handle the heavy lifting on how a company presents itself in the media, there are so many channels just laying in wait for spokespeople and other employees to trip over. In some cases, even the most benign things can blow up. Perhaps, President Obama has the trickiest line to tow in this age of instant feedback.  The response to his every move has become so absurd in the digital age. It gives communications directors the world over a sigh of relief that they aren’t managing the President Of The United States (POTUS) and constantly teetering on the precipice of digital spin control.

The one thing that is certain is that people will always find fault in anything the President does – even if he were to single-handedly save a dozen children from a flood…and save their puppies too. So, to try to control everything would be a maddening (if not stupid) directive. The hope is that the positive sentiment outweighs the negative and you do the best you can to do the right thing.

Even when he is doing the right thing, and the action seems so innocent and harmless – perhaps, even charming – there can be reasons to shudder.  One of those moments came the other night.  It could be that it leads to nothing, but I doubt it. The President and First Lady hosted a celebration of Blues music in the White House – much like many, many presidents have hosted musical events in the past.  When Buddy Guy, B.B. King and the other musicians prodded the president on to sing along, the President initially declined.  After a few more moments of pleading, he demurred and joined in the singing of “Sweet Home Chicago.”  Seems nice enough, huh? When I heard him singing that, I cringed.  I didn’t cringe because of his singing skills, but the part in the song that he finally came in on – “Come On, Baby don’t you want to go?”

I immediately envisioned the Republican Party playing on that to their heart’s delight. That’s where everything is more of a challenge for the President’s communications managers than it is for any other, because everything can be twisted and presented out of context – and it will.

Certainly, politics has a different set of theatrics around it that corporate culture, but the onslaught of information is still quite there and needing some form of management.  There are lessons businesses can take from the Office of the President (any President of any party) and suffuse into their own communications procedures.  And, those communications directors can be thankful that they don’t have the level of stress that running communications for POTUS brings – especially if you don’t want him to return to Sweet Home Chicago for at least another four years…

Obama Sets The Social Table

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, the Obama team used Facebook, Twitter and other digital media/social outlets perfectly to generate support in ways we had never seen in politics before.  As the President sets out to win re-election, he is reaching back into the same well – or is he?

The Obama campaign has set up a Tumblr blog that is certain to be a bit more dynamic – or at least much more peppered with dissent – than their social outreach the last time around.  It seems, so far, that they are doing the right thing by allowing complaints about the economy or negative views – enabling true communication and engagement.  Looking at the page today, there are the obligatory calls for donations and opportunities to become a part of the campaign in the right column with the running posts by people inside and outside of the campaign in the main content body.

It is certainly an attempt to connect again with those under 30.  With most of the posts having to do with young students and graduates trying to get a job, they are seemingly hitting that target – if the posts are genuine and not just plants.  The blog has only been live for a couple of days, so it remains to be seen if it can build that discussion platform to draw the under-30s back into the fold. 

There will be a lot of happy-go-lucky campaign photos and posts to soften any body blows, but it really comes down to how open the communication is to determine whether this is a success.  Ultimately, it is the campaign that gives the most people engagement opportunities that will win this next election.  As of yet, other than Obama, nobody has really come to the Social table.

The Importance of the Details and Productivity

We’ve all been in meetings and – most likely – been bothered by someone pulling out their mobile devices and effectively mentally checking-out of the meeting (I did a video promoting MACHETE based on this common annoyance). During President Obama’s speech yesterday about his proposal for the generation of jobs and other economic stimulants, it was not comforting to see a congressman actively focused on his BlackBerry.  I wonder if the congressman heard Obama reference Twitter… Its one thing for a person to get distracted during a meeting discussing a product or its marketing, but during a meeting about trying to save a country?!



And, carrying on the photo theme heading into the weekend, what follows is an example of how there are many ways to tie your shoes.  The image was seemingly created and posted by the site Cuartoderecha.  There surely must be some comparison to solutions for business or marketing challenges.  The key is figuring out which one will actually make a difference.  Just coming up with other solutions doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive.
Of course, with either of the items above, I leave it to you to determine for yourself which is ultimately more productive.