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Ken Magill

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Me and Hillary in Vegas? Er, No

9/15/15
 
By Ken Magill
 
My college journalism mentor, Charlie Adair, used to say the best editors have dirty minds because they spot unintended connotations in words and phrases before they get published.
 
My mind is pure filth. And I am a pretty good editor, if I say so myself.
 
The Clinton camp sent out an email to subscribers recently, the subject line of which I would have recommended they change.
 
“You and me in Las Vegas,” the subject line said.
 
Shudder.
 
It immediately conjured an image that really needs to stay in Vegas—without me.
 
To me, it was akin to “You and me at Carnival in Rio,” or “You and me at Mardi Gras.”
 
Granted, the word “you” is the second most powerful selling word in the English language right behind “free.” Versions of the word “you” are common in advertising, “Have it your way,” being a famous example.
 
But the Clinton camp’s use of the phrase “you and me” pertaining to Vegas with its purposely crafted what-happens-here-stays-here image struck an off note with me.
 
“You and me in Washington” would not have had the same effect.
 
I’m willing to concede maybe it’s me.
 
There is a photo on our bookshelves of me shaking hands with former President Bill Clinton. I took part in a panel discussion at an event held in Aspen, CO by infoGroup at which Clinton was the keynote. Everyone who attended got their picture taken with him.
 
It was at that event that I finally understood Bill Clinton’s political appeal. “The guy’s electric,” I thought as he held the room riveted, seemingly talking to everyone individually.
 
But that experience has not translated into support for Hillary.
 
So admittedly, maybe the “You-and-me-in-Las-Vegas” subject line was a turn off to me mainly because I am not a proper target. 
 
But imagining the same subject line from every other candidate still strikes me as creepily familiar.
 
I don’t want to play blackjack, drink and smoke cigars with any of them. 
 
I would love to hear from some Hillary supporters to find out if the Clinton You-and-me-in-Vegas subject line prompts anything close to the visceral reaction it did from me. [Remember, readers: This is about marketing, not politics.]
 
Opening the Clinton Vegas email revealed it was a promotion urging supporters to sign up for a chance to be in the audience to support her during the Democrat presidential debate in October.
 
“Support me in Vegas” in the subject line would have conveyed the same message as would have “I need your support in Vegas” without connoting an image of hanging out with Hillary in a casino into the wee hours of the morning, or worse.
 
So readers, is it me or was that a creepy subject line? 
 
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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Richard H. Levey
Date: 2015-09-16 09:23:58
Subject: An Off-Brand Message

You’re right about your ick response in general: The implied sexual content isn’t really appropriate for any political campaign, much less Hillary Rodham Clinton’s. Merely because the expression “Politics makes for strange bedfellows” is in the vernacular does not mean candidates should run on it… or coyly tease it in their messaging. That statement is doubly true for this campaign. The Hillary brand is not a warm and fuzzy brand. Even without being compared to her husband’s brilliance as a campaigner, she’s not an especially warm candidate. Remember, in 1992 she was vehemently not a cookie baker – which was appropriate: She’s a smart, tough attorney who became a smart, tough politician. Homemaking wasn’t part of her messaging. The campaign plays to her strengths when it portrays her as a smart, cool, take-charge candidate. Remember the viral effort which featured a write-your-own-caption option for a photo of her on an airplane? That was both fun (for her supporters) and on message. This? Not so much. That subject line strikes me as having written by a young-ish, or at least inexperienced, campaign staffer. If this is the case, turning over supporter-facing messaging to someone who isn’t vetted for appropriateness is a mistake. And if it was written by an experienced campaign hand, then for shame: The candidate, at her best, is better than that. The messaging should be too.
Posted by: Catherine Jefferson
Date: 2015-09-15 15:41:36
Subject: Unfortunate rather than outright creepy

I'm female and straight, and live in Nevada, so the effect on me was not what it was on you, Ken. I'm not a big fan of Hillary Clinton, but I'd love to have lunch with her sometime. She strikes me as intelligent (VERY), sane, only reasonably paranoid, and certainly no worse a weasel than most politicians are. However, I suspect that the effect on most men, especially those who don't live in Nevada. Most non-Nevadans don't have a nuanced view of the Las Vegas area. For me, Las Vegas elicits memories of Mt. Charleston ski resort, houseboats on Lake Mead (mostly high and dry now), Valley of Fire State Park (which is *stunning*), and flights over the Grand Canyon. A visit to the Las Vegas area might mean a show for me, or an art exhibit at the Bellagio or Venetian, or a visit to the WONDERFUL spa at the Luxor. I also might enjoy being spoiled rotten by the world-class staff and amenities at the Bellagio or Wynn. I don't gamble, however, and have zero interest in nudie shows. That's what I avoid in Las Vegas, not what I go there for. :) I think that the Clinton campaign would do well to listen to you. Obviously my reaction to Las Vegas (let alone to Hillary Clinton) *isn't* that of the average American.

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