“Marketing is what you do when your product is no good.” — Edward Land

November 6, 2009

2It’s hard to imagine in our time any amount of hype being dismissed as “too much,” but that’s how former President Bill Clinton’s handlers have described the marketing of a planned joint appearance by Clinton and former President George W. Bush. The event, which was to have taken place at Radio City Music Hall on February 25, has been cancelled on the grounds that it was oversold as the toughest face-off since Leo the Great and Attila the Hun.

Ticket prices for this event, in which the two former chief executives were to have discussed various issues of domestic and foreign policy, were to range from $60 to $160.

s-OBAMA-INAUGURATION-largeThis would not have been the first time the two men have shared the same platform; they did it in Toronto in May. Although there were some reports that each was paid $150,000 for that gig, that has not been confirmed, nor has any information been forthcoming about what they might have been paid if the Radio City event had gone on as planned.

News reports of the Toronto appearance indicated that Clinton and Bush did not sharply disagree on many issues, so the language used to promote the New York appearance struck me as odd from the outset. The context is that Clinton and the first President Bush have formed a good post-White House relationship, and the younger Bush hasn’t been at all politically combative since he left office. If Harry Truman could make peace with Herbert Hoover, why not Clinton and the Bushes. This was looking like a love fest despite the marketing lingo.

I was especially amused by the description of the encounter that has now been cancelled as “the hottest ticket in political history.” I wonder what Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas — wherever they now repose — think of that.





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