Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Gerry Linda--On Political Advertising
4:29 pm cdt
Here’s an idea I’m hot about and I’m asking everyone
who views this (mostly marketing professionals I assume) to pass it on—to friends and to your media contacts. Add
to it as well if you like.
We’re entering my least favorite season of the year (and it becomes worse during a Presidential
election year), the season when politicians pollute the airwaves and clog our mailboxes with their advertising. As a nation,
we’re going to be exposed to about 15 months of the lowest forms of advertising. These ubiquitous ads will be created
by individual candidate campaigns, by the Democratic and Republican National Committees and by independent PACs. They all
will likely have a few features in common—if history holds, there’s a good chance they will be filled with falsehoods,
half-truths, innuendo, and misrepresentations of the facts. It is thought that by the end of 2012 the two main Presidential
campaigns will have spent nearly $500 million each trying to elect their candidate president. That billion dollars
doesn’t include what the PACs will be spending, nor does it include what the Republican candidates will be spending
in their primaries and it doesn’t include what will be spent on individual state-wide US House and Senate races, nor
spending on within state contests.
It is going to be incredibly UGLY. There are two main reasons it’s going to be so disheartening.
One is that every campaign manager and “media consultant” will tell their candidate that “going negative”
is the proven way to win. So we will hear and see a continuous slamming of each candidate until the marginal voter will come
to believe that all political candidates are unworthy and that there isn’t much difference between them except in the
degree of their depravity and lack of suitability for office. Is it any wonder that our voter turnouts are so low as to be
embarrassing for an established democracy?
And the second reason is further proof that the law of unintended consequences
frequently applies when least expected. Political advertising, by law, is exempt from truth in advertising rules—at
both the state and federal levels. A hot dog company, for example, would be sued by its competitors (and by the states,
and the FTC and the FCC) for telling lies even remotely as blatant as what political advertisers do. (Check out the huge legal
battle going on right now between Kraft (Oscar Mayer) and Sarah Lee (Ball Park) about whose hot dogs are “all beef.”)
The reason why political ads are exempt can be understood as follows: it would be dangerous in a democracy for the government
(party) in power to be able to rule on the acceptability of what an opposition party might say in seeking to overturn their
rule. The unintended result is that political ads have become the trash they are.
I see only two possible solutions to this problem.
The first is for citizens, people like YOU, to complain—loudly and frequently—when they are exposed to such communications.
If we do this well enough, some of the media will take up the cudgel in our behalf. And the second is to get candidates to
refuse to behave badly. If Grover Norquist can get Republican candidates to sign a pledge about taxes, why can’t we
get them to sign a pledge about truth in their political advertising.
Pass this on, OK.
Best as always,
Thursday, August 11, 2011
A Year for Thinking and Writing
1:55 pm cdt
2011 is turning out to be a year in which I have had a chance to put a significant
amount of material on paper (or arrayed as pixels, as the case may be).
Soon to be published by CD Publications, only as an electronic book because it seemed to fill a tightly defined
need, will be UNDERSTANDING THE BOOMER AND BEYOND MARKET-- Its Growth, Mindset, Attitudes and
Buying Behavior. This is subtitled, A New Companion Book on the Mature Market with Chapters
by Eleven Leading Experts.
That's right, I'm one of those experts and wrote the lead chapter:
"What Do We Know about Boomers and What Does It Mean?"
in November Sage Publishing intends to release Leading Edge Marketing Research: 21st Century Tools and Practices,
which I co-edited with Bob Kaden and Mel Prince. I'll be writing more about this in the future so stay tuned.
I also want to announce I'm serving as start-up Marketing Director for a new website:
HappyCouples.org. (Of course, I'll be using some of my Boomer expertise.) We're in our alpha test so you can't go there yet.
I'll let you know when to check us out.