Facebook Twitter YouTube SoundCloud RSS

Obama Promotional Offer: Proof That Politicians Will Do Just About Anything for a Bit of Dough

Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire
Sept 25, 2012

I am not one for playing sides in party politics, and this year’s highly uninteresting and vapid US Presidential race-to-the-death will certainly not change my feelings on partisanship.

When I was a child, I remember my first airline flight. It was on a Delta 747. On my way into the cabin the pilot kindly gave me a miniature model Delta plane. I recognized it immediately, knowing full well that it was about the coolest thing a kid could’ve had at that time in his life. Before take-off, I found a thick white paper bag in the magazine pocket in front of my seat. It had an odd wax coating around the interior. Then my father informed me what it was – a sick bag. For a 7 yr old, an airplane was probably the coolest place one could possibly be. “Why would anyone need a sick bag”, I thought.

Here’s one possibility…

In 2012, we’ve become so acclimatized to accept that 21st century politics will deliver more than its share sick bag moments. It’s that all too painful reminder of a plastic politician’s drive to fill the campaign coffers, and that slimy feeling one gets when one realizes that politicians – even incumbant US Presidents, will do just about anything for a bit of dough.

Until last month, I honestly felt that Obama’s rather disturbing “Seal Team 6 – ONE CHANCE re-election advert was this year’s political sick bag moment. It was an ad where the President pretends he hunted down and killed a cartoon terrorist who, by most accounts, passed away a decade earlier. That was embarrassing, but I never realized just how desperate these clowns were to fill their campaign pockets until I saw this latest “promotional offer” entitled, ‘Dinner with Barack’.

As staged PR events go, it has all the charm and sophistication of a Tony Blair book signing. You’d think that the President of the United States would already be cool enough, or powerful enough, not to have to resort to common viral contests to pull in the dollars. Is his support base in that bad a shape, or is this something else?

It’s not just the condescending celebrity marketing. It’s the affirmation that these days, even the President of the United States struggles with basic decorum, and appears to have no limits as to how tacky a campaign gimmick can be. The air of desperation in this particular marketing push boggles the imagination, and almost makes you want to vote GOP, if only to restore some semblance of order and dignity to the White House, even as you are fully aware that Mitt Romney will also come up short on that score too. This is as bad as it gets.

Dinner with Barack’s promotional ad lays out the contest rules: “No purchase, payment, or contribution necessary to enter or win. Contributing will not improve chances of winning. Void where prohibited. Entries must be received by September 25, 2012. You may enter by contributing to Obama for America here, by signing up for Quick Donate here, or click here to enter without contributing or signing up for quick donate. Three winners will each receive the following prize package: round-trip tickets for winner and a guest from within the fifty U.S. States, DC, or Puerto Rico to a destination to be determined by the Sponsor; hotel accommodations for winner and a guest; and dinner for winner and a guest with President Obama on a date to be determined by the Sponsor (approximate retail value of all prizes $4,800). Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. Promotion open only to U.S. citizens, or lawful permanent U.S. residents who are legal residents of 50 United States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and 18 or older (or age of majority under applicable law). Promotion subject to Official rules and additional restrictions on eligibility. Sponsor: Obama for America, 130 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601.”

Begging for Dollars

Barack’s bingo moment – one of those moments when you cringe, even if you’ve never been a fan of the First Family. But it’s a fair cop to ask what is it we are looking at here? Is it a contest? A lottery? A raffle? Can you enter at Wallgreens? 

Someone paid a DC or J Street PR firm a lot of money to come up with this one. If this ad is viewed as a holographic representation of the US political system as a whole, then there can be little doubt that the White House has lost the plot.

How this advert ended up in my box, I have no idea. Maybe it’s the change Barack was talking about in 2008 – lowering standards, lowering expectations seems to be in vogue in 2012.

Truth be told, Obama’s Applebees-style promotional ad does make one feel a bit exposed – like the feeling you get when you come home after being away and have 20 pizza flyers stuffed through your letter box. So it’s natural to feel a little cheaper having seen it.

And the disclaimer to die for…

Contributing will not improve chances of winning…”

NOTE: Quite generously, though, Barack and the wife have offered to cover the airfare for the winner.




Get Your Copy of New Dawn Magazine #203 - Mar-Apr Issue
Get Your Copy of New Dawn Magazine #203 - Mar-Apr Issue