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?

Obama gains in US presidency race

Barack Obama is gaining in the US presidential election race. Since my comment the other day, Centrebet‘s odds on Obama winning have narrowed from $3.20 to $2.95, and Hillary Clinton’s have widened from $2.30 to $2.45. John McCain is steady at $5.25. Olive oil, patty, olive oil…

Predictions for 2008

OK, I’m meant to be clever, so here are my predictions for 2008. The Snarky Platypus didn’t help me with these, as we decided we had better things to do on New Year’s Eve (gin and tonic, for example). So blame me alone.

  1. The Joy of Chairman Rudd’s Iced VoVo Revolution will be dulled by the end of January when they take some stupid actions which demonstrate that they are, after all, politicians like all others. Actually, this has already happened with the announcement of mandatory Internet filtering by ISPs. I’ll write more about that soon.
  2. At least one member of the (former) Howard cabinet will be charged with a criminal offence over something they did in office. I’d like it to be Brendan Nelson, because that deal to buy $6 billion worth of Super Hornet fighter aircraft stinks — mostly because the air force doesn’t want them and the process was, erm, rushed to say the least. However I suspect it might be something to do with the AWB scandal.
  3. Channel 7 will continue to win the Australian TV ratings. Channel 9 will fail to reinvent itself now that its owned by an investment vehicle and not a media proprietor.
  4. Telstra will be forced to separate its wholesale and retail businesses. Meanwhile the Sol Trujillo-led management team will continue to play nasty with the government, causing them to be increasingly sidelined — especially over the Rudd government’s new broadband rollout.
  5. Barack Obama will win the US Presidential election. I know Hillary Clinton is currently the favourite, but I have the gut feeling that the Oprah factor will be important, and that Hillary’s dirty washing will be aired.
  6. When former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra returns from self-imposed exile on 14 February the new government, which is a coalition led by a Thaksin-supporting party, will somehow drop the corruption charges against him. Another military coup will follow.
  7. At least one Australian company will suffer a major leak of its customers’ private data, prompting new laws on dealing with such things (like they already have in California).
  8. We’ll finally figure out what the Storm Botnet, the world’s largest network of hacked computers, is for. My guess: whatever the hell the designer’s paying clients want it to be for.

You might also like to read the interesting predictions from The Australian (not really predictions, but obvious events following on from their news calendar), advertising agency JWT, Peter Black and Rachel Polanskis, and predictions about toy names for 2008.

What are your predictions for 2008? And how do you think mine rate?