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July 23, 2007


Bush has tried many, many times to talk his way into popularizing the Iraq war. While it is true that Bush is a lousy speaker and cannot deliver his message outside his hard core base, the biggest obstacle is that after the initial year or so people expected results and not smooth talk.

It is way past the stage where lipstick can be applied to this pig of a war. Results are what matter, and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Bush to deliver results.

But it is clear that Petraeus will come up with yet another rosy scenario in September while at the same time asking for more patience, so they'll have to come up with yet another round of PR.

With Ford it's generally a family connection decision, yet Ford mirrors Bush's priority of keeping his family of stupid, arrogant crooks together over his Country every time. Same picture.

O/T NYT has a good piece up about the Guantanamo whistleblower, he'll be testifying this week before Congress.


the Ford adv on tv for Ford Ka in Germany are absolutely hilarious and extremely popular (and available on youtube)

Peter Miller

peter miller

Actually, JWT Europe does a much better job than JWT the rest of the world: I've used those Ka ads in branding classes.

But Ka is unique in Ford for the degree to which the team was allowed to "live" the lifestyle of their target. As I understand it, the folks from the original Ka team are still considered weirdos by the rest of their colleagues, bc Ka was targeted so far outside of Ford's generic target.

I think Rand was responsible for the Pentagon Papers, which had a rather spectacular success as a marketing campaign to end the war. Of course, that wasn't what was intended.

So much for the old meme about running the government as a business. The cold reality is not as sensible as it sounded.

As noted here by McClatchy, Bush is extraordinalrily bad at selling the American people on things they don't already want. Thisk Social Security reform, the initial failure that caused the unraveling that began almost as soon as the second term began.

As we slouch toward September, I don't expect him to get any better.

That is reminiscent of the story in Imperial Life in the Emerald City where they were trying to create a world-class electronic stock exchange instead of using the very well-adapted chalkboard based system the local traders were already familiar with. The most successful mission objective of our invasion has been the widespread transfer of government funds to large contractors in exchange for not very much.

It would be quite a feat of brand re-invention to improve acceptance of one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I think surveys would show WAR is already a well-known brand in many markets, and historically, consumer acceptance has been very low.

I don't think "The new-and-improved American Occupation! Now with 52% less misdirected violence and killed loved ones!" will do it. But then, I'm not being paid to think it might.

I know a ford dealer that hired outside help to try to sell cars the usual ads wouldn't. I have noticed the ads from the US makers are getting more and more absurd. No substance, so they go to rock stars with "populist" credentials, ( Bob Seeger not singing "What a Crock", Mellencamp...) Toyota comes out and shows their truck accelerates better and stops better and it is all over for the competitors.
but I supposed their earmarks and tax breaks make it so they make money even when they lose, right? Wonder if that will continue when they no longer sell vehicles? of course it will silly. what am I thinking.

and they don't make an electric because?

It reminds me of the Detroit auto exec who said that hybrids wouldn't sell unless gas prices were over $n/gallon. At the time he said it, gas prices in Los Angeles were about ten percent higher than what he quoted. I'm looking at the story and wondering where he travelled and how he bought gas - or if - because the lack of connection to my world was so large.

this weekend I was in a veterans' memorial park in a small Minnesota town--memorials starting with the Revolutionary War through Civil, Spanish American, the War to End All Wars, and on and on until a plot that is reserved for a memorial to Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Which in light of this post, makes me wonder--with such dissonance between brand and product, how can DOD think they can market this lemon? Enduring Freedom in Iraq--oxymorons cannot be brands can they?

Okay, people are dying in the streets of Iraq, they've got little work, little electricity, living in fear...


A JINGLE! We need a jingle. That'll fix everything.

Maybe what Bushco needs is some kind of reverse-psychology marketing, like The Producers - get them to try their absolute worst to put some workable policies in place, Springtime for Osama, so to speak, and then it will undoubtedly be a smash success!

On the topic of car marketing, I really cant stand the fact that GM tries to get people to buy cars with something like OnStar and portray it as a technological advance that makes the car better - they'd do better if they let their dealers give everyone who bought one a free I-Phone, and actually built cars that people want to buy.

On the JWT /Ford situation, I have always noticed that many of the decisions made by Ford seem to be influenced by the flow of dividends to members of the Ford family - perhaps there is some similar connection with JWT?


Mr. emptywheel commonly refers to me as "On-Spouse." So for someone like him, GM's got nothing to sell.

Late to the party. Summer in the ice business, it just never stops.

I love your connection between FoMoCo and Bush.

Ford kinda let it slip the other day that they were thinking of selling Volvo. How stupid is THAT? How could Ford sell off the brand with the highest safety-rating customer perception, when they own licensing rights to Toyota's hybrid technology? Imagine Ford creating an aggressive development program at Volvo to make all their cars hybrid. Imagine in five years how many hybrid Volvos would be sold--at premium prices. They'd have waiting lists.

Bush is like this. Blind to the obviously good business decision. It'd be simple: Declare victory and begin an orderly withdrawal. What else do these people need?

Mr. emptywheel commonly refers to me as "On-Spouse." So for someone like him, GM's got nothing to sell.


When I first saw the report on this Rand exercise, I got the first good laugh I've had in days.

There's such a strong belief in this country in marketing and advertising that many think it's a cure-all, that perception management is capable of fixing any underlying problem, no matter how severe that problem. That's the general tone of the Helmus paper--and other badly managed Bush administration efforts, such as Karen Huge's "listening tour," in which she listened very little and lectured a great deal.

The notion of a "force" brand is utterly ridiculous--that's what armies do. They go in and break things and kill people. Militarily, force is not a brand--it's an inherent quality--and suggesting that the opinions of an occupied country's inhabitants would be changed by rebranding the occupying army is very nearly theater of the absurd.

If there's any branding going on, it's been done by a definable recent history. "We're here to help you" just doesn't wash when the U.S. military has been going house to house, kicking down doors, terrorizing the inhabitants, and, once in a while, raping and murdering children and setting fire to their bodies. There's already been two brands applied to the U.S. military in Iraq, and they're well-understood by the civilian population. "Infidel" and "occupier." No amount of glitzy Western marketing is going to change that.

This exercise is like trying to rebrand Thalidomide as saving on children's shoes.


i've driven and repaired a LOT of fords, so i have an opinion of william ford and his failure to follow through on his promise of an environmentally sound car.

he had the vision; he just didn't have the guts to fire the obstructionists in the two divisions that opposed him.

but this is a weblog about politics,


think of the "run-up" to apple's iphone a few days ago -


people sitting on sidewalks in chairs, sleeping in line, and other idiocy, just waiting to get themselves one.


to be part of a "social movement",

a completely trivial,

manufactured by advertising,

short social movement,

but a social movement nonetheless.

now, think of the "run-up" to the last of the harry potter books,


people happy to join in the crush for the book.


as with the iphone,

much manipulation of the populace,

not only by advertisers,

but by our national media

who calculate they can sell their products by jumping on the harry potter bandwagon.



imagine a future american military action in which the same marketing manipulation was used,

and the same hysteria generated,

not on trivial matters like a phone or a book,

but on matters of lives, property, and society destroyed.


you don't have to imagine this.

this is what rumsfeld, cheney, and their white house, dod, and state department allies accomplished in 2002-03 to "validate" the invasion of iraq.

the entire process of moving the nation to war employed the emotional fulcrum of the saudi attack on the world trade center

together with advertising and propaganda techniques

to manipulate the nation into an invasion of iraq.

remember the patriotism?

especially the commercial patriotism -

the flags FOR SALE in every grocery or hardware store?

the bumper stickers, in the IMPERATIVE voice,

"(you) support the troops".

remember how every fireman or police officer or soldier since then has been manditorily referred to as a "hero" -

though true heroes are few and very far between?

remember the jessica lynch and pat tillman lies from the dod's public relations folk?

the pentagon's latest move to "political advertising", a.k.a. propaganda,
may be foolish and probably will not work.

but just hold in your memory the pictures from cnn, nbc, cbs, fox, abc

with their reporters "embedded" in the military,

endlessly reporting on the ass- end of the tank in front of them,

and on unidentified bodies along the road.

and then recognize that the dangers this nation faces are less from terrorists

or from eisenhower's "military-industrial complex"

than from a military/media alliance

using advertising techniques and reportorial complicity to push this nation to war.

Yeah -- all we really need are Seth Godin IDEAVIRUSES sneezed effectively into the faces of opinion makers and leaders, then it all just propogates out via blogs and cool new media formats including youtube, run it all through an echo chamber, shut off dissent, order up a batch of Rent-a-trolls to reinforce the ideavirus, and voila, the public will buy everything.

but they sure don't get a warranty anymore.

Ford is a mess. It has the lowest plant utilization and the least productivity of any automaker, a dire financial situation compounded by rapidly falling sales with large looming restructuring losses, a serial inability to build cars that people want to buy compounded by the replacement of only 60% of its models while its competitiors will replace 80% or more of their models compounded by a disasterous marketing strategy. While the other auto companies zip ahead, Ford will have to remake itself. Hmm ... Ford almost sounds like the U.S. under the failed leadership of Bushco and Company.

There are numerous strategies that could fix Ford's problems but will the shareholders, the UAW, and the Ford family be focused enough on the future and patient enough to to allow for the development of a new Ford for a new millenium? There's no overnight magic that is going to fix this behemoth of a mess. Will sales decline so rapidly that the cash burn rate sinks Ford financially before it can effect the much-needed turnaround? Will it sell the very assets it needs to remake itself in order to stay afloat while it tries to remake itself? Ford needs to drastically downsize in order to survive and remake itself. I hope that the compamny, the Ford family, shareholders and the UAW can come to some agreement that gives the company a chance to become the new Ford it must become in order to survive now and later thrive in a rapidly changing industry frought with enormous future uncertainties.

The money spent on RAND is a drop in the bucket compared to the money already spent and gone on Rendon Group (who was paid to sell us the Introduction to Iraq War), SyColeman and the Lincoln Group (which is a fishy little outfit comprised of Goodling-like, wet-behind-the-ears sycophants). We have been been marketed to death already, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by this CEO presidency.

But it's not just the crappy product or the immoral marketing firms that would actually accept an unethical contract to "brand" a war; the CEO running this business needs to be fired and now, and the shareholders need to be told they are bankrupt financially and morally.

It's telling from John Rendon's own response to questioning about the war that the CEO only asked for a marketing patch, thinking that would be all that was needed to make this puppy run smoothly. Fire the CEO now.

But Rayne, this is about marketing the immoral carnage to the Iraqis; the previous efforts were mostly about marketing the immoral carnage to us. And this new marketing group, well they are like the General Petraeus of PR; we got the right men on the job now. This is a new way forward; you simply must give the semantical surge a chance......

Oh, I forgot to add that the narrative by John Rendon you gave the link to is shockingly intelligent and thoughtful. There is no way that those words were allowed to be spoken in the presence of Cheney.

bmaz -- Rendon was unable to answer, though, what the real agenda was behind the drive for war in Iraq. Apparently the agenda was not his product to sell; Rendon was hired to sell the sizzle and not the steak, didn't give a rat's patootie about the quality of the steak or its pedigree, just that he could provide the sizzle. Bugs me that Rendon was so compromised; I wrote a note of protest to The Long Now before his seminar at TLN, complaining about his conflicted status, never heard a thing from them about it. And you see what Rendon said; how are we to take anything Rendon says seriously when his actions speak much louder?

The contracts with SyColeman and Lincoln Group weren't supposed to sell the war to us, in actuality; they were supposed to sell the war to the Iraqis after it started, by purchasing positive news from local reporters and publishing it inside Iraq along with deploying cutting edge internet-mediated communications to promote the "good news". But I could not ever get a satisfactory answer as to how we, the American public, could be assured that this was not propaganda that would be used against us, since the internet has no physical boundaries.

p.s. for EW: note in this article about Lincoln Group the little bit about SAIC.

You hit the nail on the head: "product does matter". Lipstick on a pig and all that...

Rayne - You probably know this already, but I wasn't saying Rendon was a good guy; not at all. Simply that what was apparently his statement was pretty intelligent and cogent and not, certainly, what Cheney would want said or to hear. And the top comment, @10:56, well that was completely tongue in cheek....

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