Meme watch: 10 Reasons Mitt Romney likes 1916 so much

Mitt Romney’s weapons of mass anachronism

In one brilliant moment in last night’s US Presidential debate, see Barack Obama was able to take a Mitt Romney soundbyte – that the US Navy is smaller today than it was in 1916 – and turn it into a meme-beating-meme of his own. Which led to a lot of spin-off memes. But in thinking about it, visit this I realized: Mitt Romney has a lot of reasons to look back fondly at 1916.


Background for non-political junkies

Here’s Barack Obama’s one-liner lampooning Mitt’s fixation with 1916 – as Tweeted by the @Obama2012 team:

Click the image above to visit my post.

Which of course, went viral on social media almost instantly. So last night, hoping to add to the viral feeding frenzy, I posted an infographic (at right) about Mitt Romney and his binders full of modern ideas.

But 1916 was a really interesting choice for Romney to make in many, many other ways. I’ll give you 10 – with my tongue firmly in cheek of course.

10 Reasons for Mitt Romney to like 1916 so much.

  • American “manifest destiny” dreams were at their peak. American troops occupied Nicaragua, Panama, Haiti, the Philippines, and a bunch of others. Sure it was expensive. But it was cool.
  • The US Navy had WAY more boats in 1916 than today. Okay, they looked like this (below), but there were LOTS of them!
  • The US invaded the Dominican Republic. They installed a puppet dictatorship, then spent years fighting grumpy insurgents. Mitt should try that somewhere. It could work!
  • Republicans were pushing the US to go to war with Mexico! That would have been awesome!
  • Massive military buildups between the world’s superpowers over the previous decade meant that in Europe they were having a Great War!
  • It only cost $17 million to build 375 new “aeroplanes” in 1916. In the F35 fighter program that would buy you a floor mat and two barf bags.
  • The rich were doing just fine.The Rockefellers and Carnegies were at their height and the richest 1% held more wealth than ever before in history!

    Check out the similarity between 1917 – what gazillionaires refer to as the “good old days” – and the modern era. Oh, but cheat the 2012 line up to 24%.
  • Blacks were allowed to vote, but sneaky tricks were used to keep them away from the polls! Forget photo ID laws. Those 1916 voter suppression ideas were even more radical!
  • American women couldn’t vote yet. That would totally help Mitt’s chances!
  • A popular Democrat named Woodrow Wilson won a second term running against a completely forgettable Republican opponent. That guy was named… um…

Oh wait. Ignore that last one Mitt! 1916 is totally the year you should focus on!

#KloutBomb: how to game the social media gamers

Hey kids! Tired of the same old influence metrics? You know, click boring stuff like intelligence, expertise, relevance (ho hum) – the stuff your grandpa used to figure out if people were worth listening to?!? What if there were a system that let you make anybody look influential about anything online? Well there is, and it’s called Klout! (And we Beg to Differ.)
That’s right kids! On planet Klout, I’m a Unicorn expert!

Wait Dennis, when did YOU become a unicorn expert?!?

Well, funny story. I never did. And I barely ever even discuss unicorns – apart from this one blog post. But I was young!

No, my Klout page says I’m influential about unicorns because I’ve been hit with a #KloutBomb.  Other folks playing #KloutBomb (like Jeff Esposito or Amy Vernon – both excellent targets by the way) told Klout I was influential about Unicorns, and so, like magic, I am!

And sure, all of this *may* just show how hollow and game-like the whole Klout ranking system really is. But rather than railing against it, opting out, parodying it like Klouchebag by the brilliant British wag Tom Scott, or even taking a measured thoughtful approach (yawn), why not just game the Klout game for pure, deviant fun?

And here’s how you can play #Kloutbomb too!

  1. Go to a friend’s Klout page – preferably not one of those stuffed shirts who actually takes their Klout score seriously. On second thought, yeah, especially one of those! I recommend Jeff Esposito. He adores getting a good #Kloutbomb!
  2. Click the “See All…” link that appears under “Influential about (X) Topics”. This will take you to their Topics page.
  3. Give them +K. If they’ve already gotten a #Kloutbomb, you’ll see odd and humourous topics like some of those shown at right. If so, just click on the “Give +K” button to add to their score and bump up the #Kloutbomb topics in their list. You get five +K points to give out for every day you visit Klout, so don’t blow them all in one place!
  4. OR: You can add new topics by clicking on the “Add a topic”. So for example, today I gave Jeff a new topic: “Fabricated Rubber Products, Nec (Rubber Toys, Except Dolls)”. But note, this costs you five imaginary Klout bucks, so you can only do this once a day.
  5. Announce your #Kloutbomb to the world by Tweeting under that hashtag.
  6. Then, please let Beg to Differ know! Share your favourite #Kloutbomb topics in the Comments below.

Important caveat:
Keep them 1) clean and 2) as obviously ridiculous as possible please!

While it might be fun to tag your boss with “Masturbation” (yes it’s really a topic), this is the public Internet, so don’t be a total jerk or commit professional suicide. Or if you do, just don’t tell them we sent you.

Labatt: “Our goal was simply to protect our brand.”

Twitter to Labatt: we Beg to Differ!

This quirky little illustration by pop artist Gary Baseman was used in Labatt’s Blue ad campaign: “A lot can happen. Out of the Blue.” Indeed it can…

Twitter to Labatt: “We Beg to Differ!” This quirky and macabre little illustration by pop artist Gary Baseman was used a few years ago in Labatt’s Blue ad campaign: “A lot can happen. Out of the Blue.” Indeed it can… let’s hope the brand magicians at Labatt can put this one back together.

Out of the Blue.

It’s true. A lot can happen like that

You can be sitting at your desk working when a strange Tweet appears in your stream about a severed foot being mailed to the headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada. Whoa. Weird.

Or next, page it can happen that a weird, twisted news story unfolds in all its evil awfulness on every media channel, so you can’t even listen to the news or look at a news site online while your kids are in the room. Weird, and annoying.

Then the story can get worse with tales of kitten killing, serial-killer-dating, and cannibalism. Weird, annoying, and kind of upsetting, because it became clear very quickly that all this was being staged by one narcissistic young slimeball to have exactly the effect it was having.

Then the Internet good guys can rally their troops to try and help find the guy, and the guy can be caught. Because he was Googling himself for hours in a public Internet cafe. A great relief actually (and can we get a clean-up at terminal 7?)

And we hoped, such a capture can signal the end to the stupidity, butchery, and media manipulation.

Seriously. All of that can happen.

But then, you know what else can happen? Out of the Blue?

Someone working at a major Canadian consumer beer brand – let us call that brand “Labatt” – sees that the Montreal Gazette has skimmed a photo of the evil perpetrator  from the (do I even need to say “alleged” any more?) killer’s Web site. The photo is splashed all over their online coverage like so factory-produced beer across a freshman dorm room.

And, horrors! In the photo he is holding their product Labatt Blue!

Board rooms are booked. Meetings are convened. People speak in urgent voices.

There is a BAD man. In a PUBLIC newspaper. Holding OUR BEER!

Suitable horror is expressed by all, minions and executive washroom keyholders alike, and a powerful, simple idea emerges:
we must protect our brand!!!

Now this is where, out of the blue, somebody got the idea. An idea which isn’t a bad idea if you’re the sort of person paid to have such ideas. It just seems that way to the rest of us…

They send a lawyer’s letter ordering the Montreal Gazette to take down the photo.

So what happened then?

There’s a name for all of this, as Dabitch reminds me: “the Streisand Effect”, wherein a brand tries to “protect” itself from a media storm but ends up wading into an even deeper mess. And you’ll note that Labatt has already secured itself a spot on the Wikipedia listing for Ms. Streisand’s eponymous Effect. How’s that for exposure?

But the part that got me was this quote from Labatt’s vice-president of corporate affairs:

“Once the Gazette explained their position, we promptly thanked them for their response, dropped the matter and we will not be following up further,” Charlie Angelakos wrote in a statement. “Our goal was simply to protect our brand.”

Now dear readers, you tell me: is that how brands are protected?

Or is it perhaps how brands are dismembered, cannibalized, and made notorious for all the wrong reasons?

After all, a lot can happen…. Out of the Blue.

Sorry Ashton Kutcher. That’s a wipe-out.

Yesterday, a friend linked to the video below, wondering why Ashton Kutcher and advertiser popchips would post such a “racist video”. Then an online debate broke out about whether it is racist or not. I won’t paddle into that one, but I will offer this…

Yesterday, health a friend linked to the video below, wondering why Ashton Kutcher and advertiser popchips would post such a “racist video”. Then an online debate broke out about whether it is racist or not. I won’t paddle into that one, but I will offer this…

(Guitar Riff. Maniacal laughter.) WIPEOUT!!!

Anyone who’s had a joke fall flat knows that  humour is a tricky balance. It’s like surfing a wave. You’ve got to ride the edge between keeping your audience laughing and “sucking water” (so to speak).

But “edgy” humour is an even bigger wave, and humour dealing with controversial topics like gender, race, is the biggest, nastiest wave of all. Only the most skillful comedians can hold themselves on that edge without making people angry.  Peter Sellers did it brilliantly in The Party by creating a character that with stereotypes, but ends up making most of us love him. Will some people be offended? Sure they will. But most will sense the risk, see your skill, and cringing, go along for the ride.

Ashton Kutcher? Sorry my friend. Stick to the small waves.

Or better yet. Stay on the beach.

Update: The ad has been pulled by popchips.

Modest Proposal: re-brand France’s World Cup team

Call it football, information pills futbol, order or soccer, France has shown us all how not to play the beautiful game (or any other).

Well, after Team France’s epic failure to either a) live up to expectations at FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 or b) even remotely play together as a team, the branding experts at Beg to Differ humbly suggest a new, historically evocative team name.