Rebranding America with Obama

Photograph of burned-out KFC store

When your business’ reputation sucks, what do you do? Re-brand it!

Jon Taplin reckons American business is hoping to revive “Brand USA” by supporting Barack Obama as a presidential candidate. In Reviving Brand America, he says:

It is getting very hard to be an American company in much of the world (see photo). Whenever they are pissed off in Karachi, they burn down the KFC. George Bush’s War has made competing against European and Chinese manufacturers like wrestling with one arm tied behind your back. So like any smart CEO, the elite has decided we need a re-branding of America with a charismatic man of colour at the front.

Exhibit A is the New York Post’s endorsement of Obama this morning. I would take it as a given, that Rupert Murdoch saw this editorial before it was published. Exhibit B is MSNBC. I promise you, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann would not be given the free rein to criticize both Hillary and Republican hypocrisy, unless Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE had not given the OK. I obviously think this is a rational move on the part of American business — and I know its not like they all met at some private club to decide this. I just think this is the consensus vision, well outlined by Andrew Sullivan a couple of months ago.

But is American business that concerned with their nation’s international image? Or is Taplin spot on?

Indeed, was the success of Kevin Rudd in Australia’s 2007 election partially the result of our stagnant image overseas?

Heath Ledger spikes my website, Day 8

Traffic Graph for 2008-01-31 showing traffic relatively steady

Given that there’s quite a bit of fluctuation in web traffic from day to day anyway — for all manner of reasons — I’m going to say that it’s been relatively steady through the week so far.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Heath Ledger jokes page is now sustaining itself on Google search results. I think I’ll do a more detailed end-of week analysis tomorrow. I just wanted to publish something about this Experiment today because I know every single reader is awaiting my every word on this important global issue.

The Straw Man and the Hallucinating Goldfish

Scientific American explains two media manipulation techniques, the “straw man” and the “weak man”. Know how to spot them and help fight the Hallucinating Goldfish.

In Getting Duped: How the Media Messes with Your Mind, Yvonne Raley and Robert Talisse write:

One common method of spinning information is the so-called straw man argument. In this tactic, a person summarizes the opposition’s position inaccurately so as to weaken it and then refutes that inaccurate rendition. In a November 2005 speech, for example, President George W Bush responded to questions about pulling troops out of Iraq by saying, “We’ve heard some people say, pull them out right now. That’s a huge mistake. It’d be a terrible mistake. It sends a bad message to our troops, and it sends a bad message to our enemy, and it sends a bad message to the Iraqis.” The statement that unnamed “people” are advocating a troop withdrawal from Iraq “right now” is a straw man, because it exaggerates the opposing viewpoint. Not even the most stalwart Bush adversaries backed an immediate troop withdrawal. Most proposed that the soldiers be sent home over several months, a more reasonable and persuasive plan that Bush undercut with his straw man.

The Weak Man tactic is a twist on this…

Continue reading “The Straw Man and the Hallucinating Goldfish”