Insight. Antics.

Archive for October 9th, 2009|Daily archive page

No Bull Prize.

In Media, Politics on October 9, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Nobel Peace Prize Medal - Nobel Foundation TM

He should have turned it down. Obama gains little by accepting the Nobel Peace Prize so unexpectedly thrust upon him this morning. In the current climate, it’s the last thing he needed.

As White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in one-word email: “Wow.” Has anyone ever wanted a Nobel Prize less? Bono and Bill Clinton would kill for this. After saving a few thousands more lives with antiretroviral drugs, of course.

Chip Reid asked Gibbs in the daily briefing if the president considered turning it down: “Not that I know of.” Really? Was Gibbs on a bathroom break?

It’s true that this validates Obama’s worldview and that how we speak to each other is important. Yet, in “seeking to encourage Obama’s ideals rather than recognize concrete results, ” the committee sidestepped its founder’s vision: “Alfred Nobel stipulated that the peace prize should go ‘to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.’ ‘Shall have done,’ seems a tricky piece of language to write around.”

I don’t hold it against Obama, because I’m pretty sure he didn’t want it. Not now, anyway. However, I did think he would have the dexterity to decline gracefully and not offend the Nobel Foundation. Read the rest of this entry »

Condé Nasty.

In Advertising, Media on October 9, 2009 at 4:50 am

Gourmet Cover - August 2008

There’s nothing in the realm of media I associate more (fondly) with my mother than Gourmet magazine. For my whole life, it’s been an unfinished cookbook revealing new pages of recipes each month. They’re cut out and cooked up, tasted and tabulated: “Keeper? So-so? Garbage?” I couldn’t count on a centipede’s legs how many of its creations have become staples of my family upbringing and holidays.

I say this not merely for the sentimentality, but to demonstrate the power of a brand.

All of which makes the decision to shut it down a bummer. It was a magazine whose cover could make your stomach growl.

Kudos to those who saw this coming, but it’s a shame. And there’s a lot to unpack in its demise.

First is the paradox that it is falling even as we live in the “Era of the Foodie,” a time when more than ever the average person has the easiest access and most interest in the culinary upscale. As the eulogies poured in, the head of the Culinary Institute for America, Tim Ryan, echoed that:

“I am very surprised and saddened by the announcement. Gourmet was a high quality magazine and an iconic brand. Its demise is certainly not reflective of the public’s interest in food & wine, which is at an all time high; but more about the challenge of a print based business model in a digital age. Gourmet is just one of many print business dominos which are likely to fall in the next few years.” Read the rest of this entry »