Archive for the ‘ Politics ’ Category

Keep Your Politics Off My Pigskin!

Why Punditry, Politics and Pigskin Don’t Mix

Am I the only one who is utterly astonished by the news that Bill O’Reilly will interview President Obama during the Superbowl festivities? Great! The interview absolutely no one has asked for, airing during the worst possible time!

Maybe it’ll be good for ratings; I honestly don’t know. What it won’t be good for? An enjoyable viewing experience for my mixed political family.

I figure most people watch the Superbowl for one of three reasons:

  1. They love football and are genuinely interested in the game.
  2. It’s a national event, and it’s enjoyable for the mere spectacle of it all.
  3. Who doesn’t like a good party?

I doubt there is a national movement for reason #4.) To absorb biting political analysis in real time.

Most see sports as a diversion and an escape (from more serious fare, from our daily drudgery, from the problems of the world), and the grandest event in sportsdom is the Superbowl. Why are we tainting that with the intrinsically partisan posture of politics? Is nothing sacred for us pizza-eating, beer-sipping masses?

Chances are, if you are a fan of President Obama, you don’t like O’Reilly. Inversely, if you love O’Reilly, chances are you don’t much care for the President. I, for one, live in a house divided, so you can be pretty confident that when one of them is talking, half of the room will be groaning. When the other one is talking, the other half of the room will be rolling their eyes and muttering. What is sure to follow are a few snide remarks and (please, no!) a familial political debate. Just in time for kickoff!

As marketing communications strategists, we live and breathe knowing thine audience. I can’t help but wonder who focus-grouped this idea and decided that it was tailor-made for a football viewing audience.

I, for one, am dreading it. But beyond that, I’m wondering: Who is clamoring for this? Does the country really need more political infighting filtered into our football viewing schedules? What is the target demo for this? Whose taste is this suiting? What am I missing?

I hope to miss the interview for starters.


The Obama Blame Game, a la Spinal Tap

Why is it that every time I hear President Obama make reference to “George Bush” or “the last eight years” I immediately think of this?

(Scrub to 0:49 for the relevant bit.)

Just right. Obama has taken the stage, and is under the hilarious delusion that the crowd is still booing the opening act.

Enough already.

Palindromatic Video? “Lost Generation”

Yep, it’s possible.

Nope, not “Palin dramatic” video, though this is a bit dramatic for me. But it’s a nice piece of film, in the sense of its cleverness-ousity:

For the learning impaired, a palindrome is that which reads the same backward as it does forward. Though this isn’t technically true of this video, the term palindramatic was too good not to coin.

Smile, You’re on Candid Camera

We’ve heard this bromide many times before, but this latest episode reinforces — nay, proves — it. You cannot hide from the “media” anymore…the social media, that is.

Helen Thomas has a 100-year career (or so) as a White House correspondent, and it all goes poof in an INSTANT, thanks to a homemade video shot by a citizen journalist. If you care to watch the offensive, repugnant remarks, be my guest (If you choose to ignore it, good for you.):

She retires a day or so later.

We’ve seen it with Domino’s, United Airlines, etc., etc., etc. We all have cameras now. We all have mics. We all have publishing platforms.There is no hiding; we all are potentially exposed.

Those who tried to hide in the shadows after being publicly exposed, or those who claimed they were the victims of misquoting, or deniers of wrong-doing altogether…none is immune any longer. If someone as, er…”esteemed” as Ms. Thomas can lose a decades-long career literally overnight, what does this mean for the rest of us? And our companies?

Editor’s comment: In her case, good riddance. As someone who is just one degree of separation from personal run-ins with this bigot, I personally thank the emergence of social media and its attendant technology for exposing this hack for who she is. Couldn’t have come soon enough, and couldn’t have happened to a worthier louse.

The Comcast Conundrum

Can you think of another company that has the best product in its category but is so reviled by its customer base (and potential customer base) that it’s also an industry whipping post?

I was watching T.V. last night, only to come upon a commercial in which I learned that Comcast “guarantees” the best service in the industry. My wife turns to me and replies, “Or what?”

Yes indeed. Or what? What if I find Comcast’s LACK of customer service so off-putting, so inept, so comical that I would literally step over my own mother to get to a new provider? (Oh, right — I can’t get WOW where I live, Uverse isn’t available “yet,” and I can’t get HD satellite in my neighborhood.) Who do I complain to? And what do I receive as recompense?

Well, about a year ago, I found out. In a progressive approach, the likes of which have been heretofore unseen since Gunga clubbed Mosha over the head in a rite of romantic foreplay, Comcast reached out to me via Twitter, having learned of my dissatisfaction in that very medium. Wow. So 21st-century. What came of that, you ask? Well, I was routed into customer-service hell, where I was placed on hold for 15 minutes—twice—and disconnected from my call—twice—only to be hung up on with no resolution to my issue.

SO…where do I go now to redeem my Comcast guarantee, pray tell? If anyone learns of what I’m owed, please let me know. Comcast can get in line behind the Nigerian prince who is ironing out some probate work for me as we speak.

The ironic thing is this: Shop around…I still think Comcast has the best product. The most channels, the best On-Demand, a decent DVR system. But you will be hard pressed to find anyone willing to utter the words “I love Comcast.” Go ahead. Try and find someone.

How hard can it be to serve the customer the way they want to be served? Comcast is now pretending to devote significant effort and resources to this. I hope they get it right. But the sadistic side of me hopes someone comes in and builds the better mousetrap before Comcast gets the chance. I mean, they’ve only been at this 20 years or so.

RELATED: And if you like Comcast, you’re going to love government-run health care. Bigger and badder than Comcast, the U.S. government is now going to “guarantee” us all sorts of goodies. But to whom do we turn/complain if we’re not getting the service we feel we deserve? I guess the same place we go when the U.S. Postal Service loses our important two-day package some three days after the promised delivery date. The Department of SOL.

Congratulations, America

We just became Europe.

“We believe that the tax will cost us somewhere between $5 million and $10 million a year,” says Richard Packer, Zoll’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Our profit in 2009 was $9.5 million.”

That would be a devastating blow. Zoll employs about 1,800 people. Roughly 1,600 of them are in the United States, and about 650 of those are in Massachusetts. Once the new tax kicks in, that could all change. “We can’t run this company at a break-even or a negative rate,” says Packer, “so we will be forced to look at alternatives.”

The company’s first option is to pass the increase on to customers like hospitals and ambulance companies. That might or might not work, given that they are coming under increasing pressure to cut their own costs.

The next option is to cut research and development — a short-term, money-saving move that will surely cost Zoll down the road. And a third option, says Packer, is to “look at trying to shift jobs to lower-cost places around the world.” That would be bad news for Massachusetts and the USA.

Facebook Lists

Are you tired of seeing someone you barely know, but who is a Facebook friend (colleague, co-worker or associate), trying to convince you that either Sarah Palin or Barack Obama is the devil through clever Facebook posts?

Do you tire of seeing distant acquaintances post photos of their puppies or babies ad nauseum?

Are you sick of seeing that person, whom you were obligated to connect with on Facebook, trying to sell you something, brag about their company, or talk shop in an industry that is of no interest to you?

Then introduce these folks to the concept of Lists.

I know I’m late to this party, but experience tells me I’m not the last one to it.

For those who don’t know, Facebook allows you to put all of your FB friends in lists. You might have one for friends, another for family, another for co-workers, yet another for obligatory-friend-requests-that-I-accepted-but-now-regret.

What this allows you to do is pick and choose (wisely) who gets to see your status updates, posts, photos, and so on. That way, you’re not tempting fate by posting weekend exploits for the eyes of your co-workers or clients, nor are you boring your drinking buds with posts about work and high finance.

To do this, follow these simple instructions:

1.) Categorize your friends.

From your Home page, click on Friends. In the main content area, you will find the option to Create a List. Be a dear, and click it.

From there, you will be able to add a new list, give it a name (such as “Friend-Friends” or “Work Nerds”), and check off the people you want to assign to that list. Make sure you have darn-near everyone in one category or another. This will come in handy soon…

2.) Send your posts judiciously.

As you’re preparing a post that you think not EVERYONE in your Facebook network should be privy to, notice the little lock icon in the lower-right-hand corner. Be a dear, and click the arrow next to it.

When you click the arrow, a menu will pop up, allowing you to either pick which individuals or groups of people (Lists that you created in step 1) you WANT to share the post with, OR the individual or lists you DO NOT WANT to share the post with.

3.) Check Privacy Settings.

You can even make certain privilege groups (like I did above, with Friends and Acquaintances) your default setting, whereas now it is likely that your default is “Everyone” gets to see everything. To change this and other settings that allow certain people to see certain things, look under Account in the top-right corner of any Facebook page and click on Privacy Settings.

4.) Check you work.

This only works if you set up your lists correctly. Before you start employing this practice, make sure you didn’t put your boss in your “Friends Who Come to My Keggers” list, and make sure your 10-year-old niece isn’t on your “Dirty Joke Lovers” list.

Now, please. Embrace this concept. You will annoy far fewer people who care very little about your political tirades; you will be in far less danger of putting your professional reputation at risk; and you will be doing your part to clean up the clutter in your “true” friends News Feeds.