Following the unceremonious departure of Gen. David Petraeus on Friday, we chatted with Andrew Butler, a brand strategist and modern-day Mad Man who has worked on creating strategic ideas for Taco Bell, Nissan and more, to find out what he would do if America came to him looking for a fresh ad campaign to spice up its image.
If you were advising the US government right now what would you recommend?
If America were to become my client, I would focus on what it means to be free. Not just showing pictures and images of how great America is, what we have, why people love us, what they do here. I would work to understand and communicate how people are truly able to live and be free in America. And while there are separations in color, race, creed, political affiliations, geographies, finances, we all have one thing in common, we want to be free to be who we want to be.
What kinds of messages should the government be sending out right now, with regard to the widening scandal?
Focus on showing Americans that you have a plan to ensure their safety and security while you are investigating this case.
While [Petraeus] is a public figure, he is a private citizen. We need to understand that while he has been a public official, leading American endeavors, he still is a private citizen. This investigation needs to draw a line between the two. Investigate how his actions affected his public duty. But ensure that his private life is not too deeply infringed upon.
There are consequences to all actions. Some consequences may be positive and some may be negative. We need to utilize this as a tool for us to learn from. If there are rules and you break them, you will be punished. The military is built on rules, and when one is broken, service men and women understand the penalties. We as people need to understand the rules and the consequences associated with those rules.
What role does President Obama play?
He has to become the CEO. I think that he has to be the one who calls for the action as well.
Would anyone else play a key role in our image?
In my mind I think that there is the CEO, but then no matter who you are in the country, we’re all citizens. We are all equal. It doesn’t matter what your social status is, or what your religious status, it doesn’t matter what it is, we are all citizens and we all have equal voice and we all have equal stake.
Butler further explained that America needs to switch the messaging of the scandal from pointing the finger at Petraeus, to showing the American people that they are still competent and have a plan.
An old Godfather quote ‘never let anyone outside of the family know what you’re thinking’ comes to mind here. When an investigation like this happens, we need to determine an action plan that best enables the investigators to do their job. What we’ve seen here is the public calling for a tar and feathering even before all of the facts have come to light.
Do you have any taglines that America could use?
Live free or die.
Butler later emailed to add one more line.
While we all have different points of view, it is the freedom to have those differences that connect us as Americans.
To help get America’s new image started, we gave Butlers taglines to our in-house graphic designer, Kyle Kim, who provided two ads that America is free to use to help revamp its image. (See one above)
In his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, President Obama cast war as a necessary evil.
Referring to just war theory, a classical underpinning of military ethics, Obama said, “War is justified only when certain conditions were met; if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.”
“For most of history, this concept of ‘just war’ was rarely observed,” he continued, citing the Third Reich and other examples. “Modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.”
Then came Obama’s caveat, and a shape of things to come: “There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”
Technology is the moral black box that lies between those “few small men” in remote geographies of militant Islam, and teams of American military personnel who target them in front of closed-circuit screens, peering into the places of their hunted lives, programming drone attacks like a surreal video game.
This is especially true when it comes tomiddle and lower income Americans, particularly those who receive government assistance and — according to the GOP presidential candidate — voted for President Barack Obama four years ago.
So it’s a safe bet to assume that Romney’s standing with this group won’t be helped by a video scoop today from Mother Jones, which features a “secret video” of Romney speaking at a private fundraiser earlier this year.
"During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don’t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them. Fielding a question from a donor about how he could triumph in November, Romney replied: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax."
Romney went on to say the following: “[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Here’s the clip obtained by Mother Jones, which has been blurred to protect the identity of the photographer, and which Corn claims has been verified by the publication.
President Obama reportedly signed a secret order months back, authorizing the United States to aid Syrian rebels in toppling the Assad regime. Indeed, the report just makes official what most people already knew: that the US has been involved in supporting the Free Syrian Army since the early days of the uprising. The documents do not say whether the US would be supplying arms to the emboldened fighters.
This as the fighting continues to rage in Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, where it was reported that rebel fighters were able to steal a tank and open fire on an airbase. The reports, always difficult to confirm from Syria, suggest that this is the first use of heavy weapons by the rebels.
Despite advances by the Free Syrian Army, videos by unknown sources may show the bodies of those summarily executed by rebels - 52 in all. The next daymore video appeared, with rebels claiming that it showed the bodies of those killed by Assad’s forces after house-to-house raids.
Want to know:
Michael Phelps has become the most decorated Olympian of all-time. The US swimmer now has 19 career medals, including 15 golds, 2 silver and two bronze, after helping his team win the 4x200m freestyle relay yesterday.
Phelps’ glory caught the attention of President Obama who tweeted at the swimmer: “Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal. You’ve made your country proud. -bo.” Phelps and his teammate Ryan Lochte are set for a showdown tonight in the 200-meter individual medley.
Dull but important:
Uganda is still on high alert as the death toll from the Ebola virus increases to 16 after two others died overnight. About two dozen others are being kept in quarantine after coming in contact with the virus, made famous by the 1995 Hollywood film, “Outbreak.”
The last serious outbreak of the virus in Uganda occurred in 2000, when 425 people became infected and over half of them died.
The country’s president has warned against human contact and even told countrymen to refrain from shaking hands - a move that has been said to have increased awkward social situations.
The law exempting ultra-Orthodox Israelis from military service expired yesterday, with the government signalling that it had no intention of renewing it. The controversial move will likely end what many Israelis feel has been an unfair privilege to the ultra-Orthodox community. The effort to expand participation in military service in Israel will undoubtedly affect the Arab Israeli community, which has also been exempt from serving until now.
The lead-up to the expiration has seen protests around the country by ultra-Orthodox Jews who have vowed to fight the new draft law. “The Israeli military is not ready, won’t be ready and doesn’t want to be ready to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews,” Meir Porush, an ultra-Orthodox community leader and former lawmaker told the Associated Press, vowing a “civil war,” if the draft law on conscription is passed.
Strange but true:
Here’s another way for Olympic athletes to give back to their country: pay more taxes. Americans for Tax Reform, led by a man some call the most powerful person in America, Grover Norquist, pointed out recently that the US is one of the only places that taxes Olympic medal wins.
Win a gold medal? Athletes can expect to pay $236 for the medal itself and another $8,750 for the prize money. Silver medallists pay $135 for their award, while, to add insult to injury, Bronze winners pay a solid $2.
After the release of the news, Senator Marco Rubio announced the Olympic Tax Elimination Act, exempting athletes from the medal tax.
The United States is suffering its worst drought in 50 years. Yes, that’s bad news for Americans. But what happens in the parched fields and prairies of the Midwest can affect people, prices and political stability worldwide.