Election merchandising, good and bad

Every presidential campaign brings an avalanche of marketing, and this one’s no exception.

Some of it’s not bad, actually. It’s hard not to get a chuckle out of “72 Things Younger Than John McCain” by Joe Quint and “ObamaMania: The English Language Barackafied” by the editors of Slate, both recently released by Simon & Schuster’s Fireside imprint. The former is a fantasia of stuff that has come into the world since McCain was born 72 years ago today (happy birthday, Senator!) — including penicillin, Spam, the ZIP code, latex paint, the Slinky and 49 out of 50 U.S. governors — and the latter is a lexicon of Obama-inspired terminology — including the Barackolyte (“a devotee of the Dalai Lobama”) and Obamamatopoeia (“an excellent Barack Obama impression”). Neither book requires undue brain power, and neither is meant to: With McCain cracking wise about his own age and with Obama inspiring new heights (depths?) of rhetorical devotion, these books feel lightly amusing without being mean-spirited. (As I’ve blogged earlier, I have no patience for political humor based solely on partisan spite.)

Some of the marketing involves building a brand rather than selling a product. I got an e-mail yesterday from Chicago PR firm BIGfrontier announcing its recipe for the Obama Baracktail, “a red, white and blue cocktail designed specifically to celebrate Barack Obama’s official announcement as the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. BIGfrontier is known for having developed the K’Tini, a wildly popular martini based on a marinated sauerkraut stuffed olive that reinvigorated the entire category of sauerkraut.”

(Note to self: “Reinvigorated Sauerkraut” is a good name for a band.)

The Baracktail recipe: two ounces of white Puerto Rican Rum (“signifies unifying every part of our country”); half an ounce of pomegranate juice (“signifies a healthy America”); and half an ounce of cherry juice (“signifies a sweetened economy”), shaken with one teaspoon of foaming sugar (?!?) and two ounces of club soda, poured into a frozen glass (“signifies Chicago”) and garnished with a skewer of blueberries.

Um, I’ll just have a rye Old Fashioned, thanks.

Said BIGfrontier honcho Steve Lundin: “We were thinking of developing a cocktail to commemorate George Bush’s last day in office, but couldn’t find ingredients that left a bitter enough aftertaste.”


And from the low end of the political marketing spectrum comes Obama Rocks.

Yes, rocks. With the Obama logo on them. For $6.99 each.

This is the brainchild of “two fifty-something sisters (one from Palm Desert, California, one from Mt. Vernon, MO)” looking to make a quick buck, and possessed of a backyard full of Ozark jasper and chert.

“A few days later, an epiphany! The Obama Rock was born,” says the news release. “Not the indigenous Jasper rock, but a smooth-surface, patriotically designed ‘species Obamarum rockus.’ It’s meant to be a lasting keepsake to commemorate a special time in American history.”

The California sister, Cheryl Glancy, says in the release, “I kept thinking that there was some kind of Divine intervention going on as to why I am still here in Missouri. Now I think I know.”

Me too, Ms. Glancy. Me too.


Dem convention: Signing off, headed to St. Paul

The fireworks are over and security is trying to throw the press out of Invesco stadium, unsuccessfully, mind you. We’re a stubborn lot, especially on deadline.

The CNN groupies oogling Cooper Anderson have disbursed. I never knew cable television personalities had groupies.

Obama delivered an impressive speech. He was bold and confident. He was clear and concise.

And he set the tone for the upcoming campaign: Attack McCain’s politics, not his character. It remains to be seen whether the outside groups on both sides of the political aisle will subscribe to it but it is a worthwhile and worthy goal.

I was skeptical about this outdoor stadium idea. The stage seemed too grand with its Greek-like columns and the atmosphere too much like a rock concert. It was still way too long at nearly six hours. I worried that some of the delegates would have trouble sitting in the sun for so long. The fireworks were a little scary, frankly. I like my fireworks a little further afield than inside a stadium with 84,000 people.

But now that it’s over, I liked it. There were many memorable moments, some big and some small but the delegates — and myself — will surely take away a sense that democracy is sometimes worth grand gestures.

Next up, I’m headed to St. Paul for the Republican Convention. I’ve never been to Minnesota so I’m looking forward to seeing a new place and listening to different set of Americans exercise democracy.
Look for my “GOP convention” posts to start Saturday and my coverage next week of the nomination of John McCain and his vice president.


Dem convention: What, no candy?

Obama delegate and Richmond Councilman Tony Thurmond is celebrating his ninth wedding anniversary today.

And where is the happy couple?

The young African-American elected offiical is Inside Invesco stadium with 75,000 people at the Democratic National Convention watching the first man of color nominated as the party’s choice for president of the United States.

Tony says he sent flowers earlier in the week and he and his wife will have a romantic day in Denver on Sunday before they return home to their two young daughters.

Flowers are nice. But diamonds are even better, Tony.