Presidential Reality TV

“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde

Donald Trump’s motives for announcing his candidacy for president were never really in any doubt, and they had little to do with the Oval Office. His main motive, of course, was to burnish his eponymous brand on the cheap. To flip the small upfront investment of his time and some low-budget ‘campaign’ events into free publicity on national media for all-things-Donald.

By traveling to the places where the political media assemble on assignment, he could exploit their need to deliver content for the column inches and TV nightly news segments. Donald felt assured that his unfiltered and unrehearsed oratory skills would speak for themselves. The media would be his lap-dogs, lapping up whatever he served and delivering it to millions without charging him a dime for the privilege. Donald would be part of America’s daily conversation, with his soundbites flowing from the news divisions to the morning shows and on to the infotainment gossip segments. This would translate into more consumers for all his products, be they TV shows or golf course memberships.

But a funny thing happened as Donald tried to lazily follow the wisdom of Oscar Wilde’s truism and it’s brash cousin, namely “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. Donald has learned that his venture onto the political stage has a downside, and that downside gets pretty steep when you infer that a good number of people of a certain ethnicity are murderers and rapists. Rather than seeing his words become oxygen to fan the flames of interest in his beauty pageants and clothing lines, they have poisoned his brand caused business partners to determine whether they want to be aligned with one bigot or the fastest growing demographic of consumers in the nation. They made their choice quickly: Don Diego > Donaldo.

Donald tried to build his brand on the cheap through free publicity. And while he understands that nobody has ever purchased a product they have never heard of, he was too arrogant to consider that his product (himself) may be sub-standard, and may need professional help to package it into a desirable product. Whether you are trying to sell a sponge, a soda, a song or a TV show, there’s a reason that advertising in America is a $600bln industry. Apparently, they can sell ice to eskimos. Maybe they could even sell The Donald to Latinos?

Oscar Wilde is probably turning in his grave watching his wisdom manifest itself in reality TV stars whose only achievement in life is their success in making sure everybody keeps talking about them. Here’s hoping that the financial blowback The Donald is getting will at least discourage others from using presidential politics as a self-publicizing launch pad. It’s bad enough that the presidential election cycle is so long, at least do us the courtesy of being able to ignore it until a little bit closer to election time.


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