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Go Ahead, Eastwood My Easy Chair!

Written on
Aug 31, 2012 
Author
Mike Daly  |

All week long, the Republican National Committee was playing a wild card close to its Brooks Bros. vest: There would be a surprise guest speaker at its 2012 convention in Tampa. In the ensuing hours leading up to the promised event, the news leaked that the speaker would be the former one-term mayor of Carmel, California.

Which, you know, would have been a letdown but for the fact that the small-time politician in question was big-time actor/director Clint Eastwood.

In an arena full of delegates already frothing with delight at the prospect of officially anointing Mitt Romney as their candidate for the White House, Eastwood could have given a rambling, incoherent address in which he spoke to an empty chair and repeatedly hinted at an off-color suggestion, and still have the crowd eating out of his hand.

Which, you know, he did.

Nonetheless, from a marketing standpoint, the whole affair kicked ass and inspired names. A Twitter account created by someone calling him/herself Invisible Obama had more than 46,000 followers by 1 p.m. ET today. And “Eastwooding” – the online posting of photos in which the photographer points a finger at an empty chair — became the latest social-media phenomenon.

How did Clint go viral? If one didn’t know better, one might think the RNC studied and implemented Mike Yapp’s 10 Best Interactive Marketing Practices.

1. Multimedia. TV, print and web outlets jumped on this story like Clyde the orangutan on Philo Beddoe. The “Twitterverse,” the “Facebook Nation,” the “Tumblr? I Hardly Know Her! Posse,” et al. spontaneously combusted. Smartphones set to vibrate had buttocks a-tingling all over the globe.

2: Opt-in. Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Whig, Bull Moose, or The Rent is Too Damn High Party, you opted in, whether in real time or after the fact. I was in a bar when it was happening — TVs on, sound off, jukebox blaring. “WTF is Clint doing, talking to a chair? I must know immediately!”

3. Personalization. The RNC hit the bull’s eye on its white, affluent male target, and probably pulled in conservative female AARP cardholders. But it also scored an unexpected win with a broad, younger demographic that saw in Eastwood qualities akin to those of their gruff, slightly dotty grandpas.

4. Tell a Story. Clint said he cried like Oprah and millions of others when Obama gave his 2008 victory speech, but subsequently cried even harder when he “found out that there are 23 million unemployed people in this country.” This is where the politician in Eastwood emerged, because it sent a powerful message rooted in false data, a.k.a. propaganda. Based on the real numbers, he overstated the unemployment problem by anywhere from 33 to 44 percent.

5: Include a Compelling Offer. This came from the empty chair, which apparently told both Romney and Eastwood to go fuck themselves.

6. Make it Immersive. Again, TV, Twitter, Facebook, the blogosphere. Add on YouTube and any number of news and comedy portals, and you could take a nice long bubble bath in the oversize claw-foot tub that is the Clint Convention Experience.

7. Usability. The speech provided practically limitless fodder for any and every type of media. Will Crazy Clint have the legs of a Chuck Norris or Ryan “Hey, Girl” Gosling? Doubtful, but time will most certainly tell.

8. Effective ROI. Off the charts, both intended and unintended.

9. Reshaping the Brand. This is the one area in which the RNC failed; rather, they reaffirmed themselves as the party of old, rich white guys with a loose collective grip on reality.

10. Send to a friend, viral sharing. Again, off the charts. In fact, I’m probably snapping a pic of myself pointing at an empty chair and posting it on Facebook as you read this. And following it up with the photo meme posted on Twitter by the Obama campaign shortly after Clint’s speech, with the heading: “This seat’s taken.”





Mike Daly is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years of experience in publishing. He began his career in 1983 at The News of Paterson, N.J., a long-since defunct daily paper, where at age 22 he was promoted to the position of Editorial Page Editor. Since then he has served in managerial capacities with several news organizations, including Arts Weekly Inc. and North Jersey Media Group in New Jersey and Examiner Media in New York. His work has been honored on numerous occasions by the New Jersey Press Association and the Society for Professional Journalists.

Reader Comments.

Interesting article, despite your blaring bias (e.g. “Brooks Bros. vest,” “frothing with delight,” “white, affluent male target,” “oversized claw-foot tub,” etc.).

My question is who’s spreading the propaganda, you or Eastwood? In 2010, Obama instructed his labor department to abandon the traditional U-6 figure and use the far narrower U-3. Real unemployment is currently hovering around 15%, not 8.3%. Even with the typical D.C. budgetary slight of hand, Obama still can’t get the more forgiving figure under 8%. If anything, Eastwood’s figure of 23 million is low.

You also prove that one hears what one wants to hear. You heard the more guttural f***, I heard “screw.” Is this is a distinction without a difference? Perhaps. Perhaps not. There can actually be a mutually appreciated upside to a good f***ing. I’ve yet to meet anyone who genuinely likes to get screwed.

This brings me to question your point 9. Which RNC convention were you watching? The one I watched (all three nights on C-SPAN) showed a majority of young politicians of various color hughes and seemingly in an equal number of genders. Since you apparently watched with the sound off it was clear that you would hear what you wanted to hear. Perhaps you also saw only what you wanted to see. Where were the old, rich white guys?

Eastwood’s performance was, in a word — brilliant. The empty chair is a fitting symbol of Obama’s performance as President and Commander-in-Chief. While he often simply voted “present” as a state and U.S. senator, he’s rarely in the White House doing the job most who voted for him elected him to do — lead. More than an “empty suit,” Obama has been an “empty” president. Eastwood nailed it — repeatedly.

Posted by MajorWebUser | 5:33 pm on August 31, 2012.

Speaking as a damn furriner who frankly doesn’t care much which minority of your adult population elects the next president, Eastwood’s performance was, in a word — embarrassing.

I say that because someone who doesn’t know the difference between “slight” and “sleight”, or “hues” and “hughes”, probably doesn’t get “cringeworthy”. I liked this comment somewhere on Twitbook: “Best evidence you don’t want to force octogenarians to find their own private health ins plans: Clint.”

Posted by Turista | 4:31 am on September 1, 2012.

As English isn’t my native language, please forgive my inadvertent misspellings.

Doesn’t change the truth about the 15% unemployment figure. Relying on old progressive dodges of issues with personal attacks indicates your unwillingness to argue the real point. I thought such juvenile behavior was normally outgrown in grade school.

If you were really a foreignor as you pretend, you wouldn’t have bothered to post. Admit that you are a progressive and lack a sense of humor.

Then again, I guess I fully understand why you find Eastwood’s performance embarrassing. It pointed out the flaws and lack of performance of the current administration. Eastwood did it brilliantly.

Posted by MajorWeUser | 10:21 pm on September 1, 2012.

Eastwood seems to have the last laugh. The hoax that is the Obama administration came through loudly and clearly at the DNC convention. By the way, I saw a whole bunch of old white guys at that convention. Were they lost Republicans?

Posted by MajorWebUser | 2:07 pm on September 7, 2012.

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