Wednesday, June 27, 2007


"I'm Hillary, fly me"

After a much-ballyhooed competition for a campaign theme song,1 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has made her selection, which she announced by way of an internet video spoofing "The Sopranos." Very hip. And the song? Celine Dion's "You and I." All I can say is, What was she thinking?

Here are the lyrics—

Verse 1
High above the mountains, far across the sea
I can hear your voice calling out to me
Brighter than the sun and darker than the night
I can see your love shining like a light
And on and on this earth spins like a carousel
If I could travel across the world
The secrets I would tell

You and I
Were meant to fly
Higher than the clouds
We'll sail across the sky
So come with me
And you will feel
That we're soaring
That we're floating up so high
'Cause you and I were meant to fly

Verse 2
Sailing like a bird high on the wings of love
Take me higher than all the stars above
I'm burning, yearning
Gently turning round and round
I'm always rising up I never
Want to come back down

While an amatory theme pervades the lyrics, can anyone doubt that the second verse is anything other than a paean to one of Celine Dion's finer orgasms? How will that play in Dubuque?

Then there's the lack of good ol' red-white-and-blue jingoism so essential to American politics. Not only is the song written by a Canadian but Air Canada used it a few years back for their own campaign.

Wittingly or unwittingly Hillary has placed herself in the posture of some feminine flyers who once bore the brunt of a salacious advertising campaign. In 1971 National Airlines, now defunct, had a woman's name painted on the nose of each plane and ran ads picturing an alluring stewardess ("flight attendant" nowadays) who would urge "I'm Margie (or Cheryl or ...), fly me." It was a great energizer for the Women's Movement.

Something's wrong here. I expect to be offered sex by a commercial airline but not by a candidate for the Presidency—unless of course we're alone.

Another vintage ad.2

In her novel "Fear of Flying" feminist author Erica Jong revealed to us female sexuality as never before. The novel's main character overcame her upbringing to discover just how far a woman might go if left to her own devices.3 Clinton's theme song suggests she has lost her fear of flying—along with any vestige of good sense.



1Hillary said in the contest announcement that she wanted to know our thinking on "one of the most important questions" of her campaign. She added, "It's something we've been struggling with, debating, agonizing over for months." That should give you pause.

If Clinton thinks her theme song is among the most important questions of her campaign, she's in for a rude surprise—or so I hope. [back]

2The fine print reads—

She only wants what's best for you.
A cool drink. A good dinner. A soft pillow and a warm blanket.
This is not just maternal instinct. It's the result of the longest
Stewardess training in the industry.
Training in service, not just a beauty course.
Service, after all, is what makes professional travellers prefer American.
And makes new travellers want to keep on flying with us.
So we see that every passenger gets the same professional treatment.
That's the American Way. [back]

3We have Jong to thank for the phrase—if not the notion of—the "zipless fuck." According to Wikipedia, the "zipless fuck" is defined as "a sexual encounter for its own sake, without emotional involvement or commitment, between two previously unacquainted persons." If you can forego the sexual pleasure, it's much the same as voting for Hillary! [back]

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Paid to regurgitate

I had no sooner posted my note on Al Gore's solicitation for the Democratic Campaign Committee when "Valleywag" (via Romenesko) drew my attention to Microsoft's campaign to corrupt journalism. Valleywag alleged that Microsoft is paying the tech writers of Federated Media to repeat its slogan—something like "Peepee Ready," I believe.

One writer of the group, Om Malik, has gotten all apologetic. He writes

I have requested Federated Media, our sales partners, suspend the campaign on our network of sites, and they have. We are turning off any such campaigns that might be running on our network. Would I participate in a similar campaign again? Nothing is worth gambling the readers’ trust. Conversational marketing is a developing format, and clearly the rules are not fully defined. If the readers feel a line was crossed, I’ll will defer to their better judgement.

Odd. I thought the line between news and advertising had been fairly well established.

The fact of the matter is that the original premise of the campaign was to give my thoughts by what People Ready meant to me – it wasn’t an endorsement of a specific Microsoft product.1 (You can read it here, and judge for yourself.) Nor did my words run in any portion of our editorial space. Microsoft asked us to join a conversation, and we did. I wasn’t paid to participate in the conversation, but Microsoft ran an ad-campaign that paid us on the basis of CPM ["Cost Per Impression," I presume].

Have you ever participated in a "conversation" with Microsoft? Not only are you not paid, you're not even answered.

Another Federated Media writer, Paul Kedrosky, has his own blog titled "Infectious Greed." (Do you think I make this stuff up?) It purports to be about "Technology, Finance, Venture Capital and the Money Culture." Perfect. Here's his contribution to the Microsoft "conversation"—

I’ve always been people ready, but I took a long time getting around to telling myself. Instead, I pretended that I liked working alone, or on small projects, and generally flying solo, all the while wondering what was missing. But then a bunch of things happened at once: Startups! Live television! Public speaking! It was fantastic, and I couldn’t kid myself any more: I had always been people ready, and it was time I told me.

If that's what the Microsoft slogan means, I'm "people ready" too. Yoohoo! Microsoft! Over here!

As Lily Tomlin once said (as best I remember), "I only looked like I had integrity because there were no buyers."

This reminds me that I haven't heard back from the NY Times (other than a message that my email would be passed on to the relevant editor) about a certain news story in which the writer had clearly stretched her wits to make an allusion to a company that was running a major ad campaign. She or her editor then helpfully provided a link to the company's home page even though the story concerned a completely different matter.

Should I enquire again? Is the NY Times "people-ready"?

Related post
A letter: Product placement in the NY Times? (5/3/07)



1Mr. Malik apparently has never heard of "soft" advertising. [back]


Al Gore solicits money for the DCCC

Do you remember Al Gore? Environmental activist, documenty filmmaker and writer? Well, I had an email from him this morning asking me to contribute to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)—
Contribute $35, $50 or more today to the Million Dollar Challenge and House Democrats will match your contributions 2-to-1 TRIPLING your impact before the June 30th deadline.

He signed it "Vice President." Who knew?



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