This isn’t about politics. It’s about messaging.
Like USA Weekend, which features the Obama family on its cover along with their Holiday letter, when I saw that country music was the fare the other evening at The White House, I was hoping that there might be audio of something clever and Presidential (click to download the mp3) about the values and vitality of country music that could be used in our stationality elements this weekend or even better something funny, since unlike the Bushes, Clinton, Ford, Reagan or Carter, Obama’s Hawaii and Indonesia years meant that he wasn’t steeped in country music in his childhood.
At first, I was thinking I’d make a joke of the fact that he thinks James Taylor is a country artist, but Taylor Swift officially nixed that thought last week at Madison Square Garden.
I replayed his entire five minute welcome to the audience (click to see the video mp4), looking for an edit point that was self-contained with a setup, a quick story or statement and a payoff.
He starts very well numerous times. “The music that’s storytelling gives voice…,” name drops Charlie Pride with a nice quote on country’s inclusiveness and diversity, talks about how much it means to so many, points to The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, Alison Krauss, Lyle Lovett, Darius Rucker but really didn’t say anything easily quotable, fully-formed and brief that might have worked over an intro to one of their songs. He wraps up evoking a “grand tradition,” which got my hopes up, but then ended up disappointing for my needs.
If you find a succinct statement as quotable as the ones written for former Presidents in situations like this, please point it out to me. I don’t think that in 5:07 of rambling, albeit very sincere ad libbing he gave us anything that would work out of the context it was said in.
It’s tempting to say that Obama needs a Frank Luntz or this inability to imbed at least one or two very quotable and brief, fully-formed, memorable phrases in five minutes of verbiage says something about why he’s having difficulty selling his agenda to his opposition, but I’m not going there.
I will say this: when it’s time to create your marketing messages, don’t be like Barack.
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