Even as the job approval ratings for President George W. Bush plummeted to unprecedented low levels, the White House PR wonks played a classic game of diversion marketing – if you don’t like the game, change it.
What a story!! The coach of the Greece Athena high school basketball team sent Jason McElwain, an autistic schoolboy, out onto the basketball court as a last gasp substitute. "J-Mac," as he is known, scores 20 points in four minutes and becomes a national hero.
Concomitantly, a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows W’s approval rating hitting a new nadir of 36 percent. You can imagine the meeting of the senior White House staff: "POTUS’s approval is in the basement. What’ll we do?" says one administration PR wonk. "I know. We can give the populous something else to think about," says another. And wham, CNN carries pictures of "J-Mac," the new national hero, with W’s arm around him in front of Air Force One. What great diversion marketing.
Despite the futility of this "give the people what they want" PR scheme cooked up to try to camouflage the faltering of our 43rd President, there is a lesson here for us private sector marketers: if you don’t like the game, change it. If a competitor paints you into one corner, change the topic of discussion to put them on the defensive on some other issue.