On September 6th, the Detroit News reported that Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney took a look at the latest polls and decided to pull down ads in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Romney-friendly SuperPACs did the same. The campaign and its allies are looking to move the money to swing states where the polling is more favorable.
Karl Rove's American Crossroads is hoping to help the GOP regain ground among women, particularly Latina women. According to a Gallup poll President Barack Obama has a 48 point advantage among Latino voters, while a CNN poll finds that women voters back Obama over Romney by a 16 point margin. Now Rove's Super PAC is trying to make inroads with these voters, releasing an online ad that attempts to turn the "War on Women" charge on Obama. The Super PAC is testing the video in focus groups, with an eye toward potentially creating a 30-second TV ad, according to CNN.
With its stock scraping bottom at just over $6.00 a share, its image reeling from a failed attempt to to stick its customers with a $5.00 per month debit card fee, and accusations of thousands of fraudulent foreclosures, Bank of America is undertaking another effort to improve its image. Heading up the makeover attempt is Anne M. Finucane, BofA's Global Strategy and Marketing Officer. Ms. Finucane knows better than most the depths of the trouble BofA is in. The New York Times dubs her the bank's chief "image officer" and says she and the bank stumbled badly with their failed attempt to impose a $5 monthly debit card fee -- a policy that failed after a massive uprising against the fee by BofA's customers. To her credit, Ms. Finucane says that BofA's damaged reputation "cannot be fixed with just a few new slogans. ... In order to repair reputation, you have to repair the issues that underlie" the problems, she says. But how this behemoth bank is going to improve its image when almost every week there is another story of a wrongful or needlessly cruel foreclosure, such as last week's news that a man was losing his home over an $.80 cent error, is anyones guess. BofA spends $1.55 billion/year on marketing in the U.S. alone. Fincucane has reportedly initiated a review of the company's advertising agencies, and selected agencies will be invited to pitch ideas for new marketing strategies to help improve the company's image.
The travel website Kayak.com and Lowes Hardware stores pulled advertising from TLC's reality show All-American Muslim after the right-wing Florida Family Association (FFA) complained that the show presented Muslim-American families as ordinary people. FFA, disturbed by the normative portrayal of American Muslims, complained on its website that "The point of the show is to depict Muslims as ordinary folks just like you and me who are subjected to unjust suspicion," and saying the show is "propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law." FFA maintained that the show was an attempt "to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad." The group started pressuring advertisers to drop their sponsorship of the show. The CEO of Kayak.com, which dropped its ads, claimed that no third party had influenced their decision to discontinue advertising on the show. A Kayak.com executive claimed TLC had misled them about the nature of the show, and added, "...Mostly, I just thought the show sucked." Lowes responded to FFA saying the show did not "meet Lowe's advertising guidelines." The chain issued a more ambiguous public statement saying the company had a "long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion," and saying the show had turned into "a lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives - political, social and otherwise."
After Lowe’s made it public that it had pulled its ads, boycotts have been called, protests planned, 200,000 petitions have been delivered by local religious leaders, a spoof Lowes TV ad has gone viral and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons offered to buy the remaining advertising on the show.
Finger-pointing over the Deepwater Horizon disaster resumed recently after the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Coast Guard issued a joint report (pdf) which concluded all three corporate participants in the calamity -- BP, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton -- were at fault.
It's our responsibility as journalists to let the public know who is paid by what corporation, or if they're representing the government. Otherwise, it's unforgivable. The media is our lens on the world. And it is absolutely critical we trust the media. Because, ultimately, when people are terrorized, when people are targeted, when people are marginalized, that does not make any of us safer.
- Amy Goodman, interview in "Programming the Nation?" documentary
Glenn Beck may have ended his controversial talk show on the Fox News Channel, but he's far from gone. Die-hard fans will still be able to listen to him on the radio for free, see his show for a fee, and then some. Beck plans to keep doing a three-hour-a-day radio talk show filmed by six TV cameras that will be available either live or on-demand. He also announced "GBTV," an internet-based, subscription webcast "reality series" produced by his company, Mercury Radio Arts. For just $4.99/month plus an internet connection and a $60 box from a service called Roku, fans will still be able to stream Glenn Beck onto their TV sets starting in September. For just a tad more -- $9.95/month -- fans can join Beck's "Insiders" club to get the privilege of being able to both watch Beck's show on TV AND view video of his daily radio program. Fans who can't wait until September and already belong to Beck's "Insider Extreme" club will be able to see a preliminary show-about-Beck's-show called "The Making of GBTV." Beck also announced a new, non-profit humanitarian project called "Mercury One" aimed at "saving America," and a new Glenn Beck clothing line called "1791: The Original Blueprint," the name of which is derived from the year the Bill of Rights was signed. The style will be all-American items like polo shirts and long-sleeved button-downs, the clothes will be manufactured in the U.S.A. and proceeds will go to charity. The loss of his TV show hasn't set Beck back too far financially. Beck will reportedly be moving to a mansion in Dallas, Texas that rents for $20,000/month.
At the end of May, as the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee (JFC) worked day after day and late into the night voting on changes and amendments to the state budget bill, Joint Finance Co-Chair Alberta Darling (R-River Falls) quietly slipped a small provision into the massive budget bill that has received little attention.
Starting September, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will require new, updated health warnings on cigarettes. The 25 year-old, plain-text Surgeon General warnings will be out, replaced with updated, straightforward messages like "WARNING: Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers," "WARNING: Cigarettes are addictive" and "WARNING: Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease." The text will be much larger than the old Surgeon General's warnings, and will be accompanied by powerful pictures, like photos of corpses, diseased lungs and oral cancer. To choose the warnings, FDA reviewed relevant scientific literature, considered over 1,700 public comments and performed a survey of 18,000 citizens. The new warnings will be rotated to keep them fresh. They will cover the top 50 percent of the front and rear panels of cigarette packs, and in cigarette ads, the warnings must occupy at least 20 percent of the upper portion of each ad. The new warnings were authorized by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that President Obama signed in 2009.