Channel surfing the other day, I came across a TV ad that I at first thought was a spoof, the kind of thing Saturday Night Live or the Colbert folks over at CBS love on “The Late Show.”
There was an offer, all to make America great again, for your very own “Trumpy Bear” to warm your heart and inflate ego, all for two modest payments of $19.95, not including shipping and handling.
Trumpy Bear is a cuddly thing, with a crowning tuft of golden, combed over hair (presumably detachable, just like our proud president’s actual toupee), beady, squinting and soulless black eyes, a two-tone shirt collar and an oversized red power tie that hangs down between its knees and covers its private parts. Oh, and yes, it has small paws.
I don’t intend this to be a political manifesto – not consciously, anyway – perhaps an arrow instead aimed at marketing, branding and greed, but with rousing music and a waving American flag, its creators urge us all to embrace a patriotic message and reach into our wallets. I’m sure it would make a great gift – for the empty-headed.
Trumpy Bear, have you no shame? Have you no shame, sir?
For those younger than 50, you’re going to have to look up that paraphrased quote (Hint: think 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy and the exceptionally evil, remorseless and cold-blooded Roy Cohn) and draw your own conclusion.
We’re not talking Steiff quality here, but I’m thinking that for $40 bucks, Trumpy Bear should at least come with an owners manual that instructs users on how to without shame sexually exploit women and get away with it, a checklist on how to fine-tune misogynistic tendencies, over-compensate for “Daddy” issues and prepubescent rejection and a step-by-step guide on embracing megalomania and the use of Twitter to rant daily by spewing moronic gibberish.
I’m imagining that the plush bear’s maker thought about adding a squeeze-activated voice box but passed because it would have been cost prohibitive and the design team couldn’t figure out how to have Trumpy talk out of both sides of its mouth. Still, it has ample room to insert multiple cheeseburgers or any one of its feet.
In a tinny voice, it could easily have uttered to any lawmaker-purchaser willing to listen, say, like Marco Rubio, that the NRA has you by the balls but they have nothing on “me.” Then, after a pregnant pause, a remark favoring changing the age of acquiring an assault rifle from 18 to 21 and (insert a second pregnant pause and in a whining and petulant tone) voicing a change of heart and mind.
Did its makers take into account, regarding marketing, the calm before the Stormy? – I mean storm. Karen McDougal, a former Playboy centerfold and Playmate of the Year, may have her own take on this. I’ve got a double-sawbuck that says Trumpy Bear is manufactured in China, by the way. Russia? Certainly not. Putin would want a piece of the action and insist on a strings-attached puppet, not a plush bear. Enough said.
I don’t believe this plush toy will do well in markets where school shootings have taken place. Elementary school teachers will likely pass on placing orders since Trumpy is not a traditional learning tool. Besides, teachers have this affinity to … teach … and not be preoccupied with reading weapons manuals and weigh concealed-carry permits or being armed. Throughout the nation, in addition to practicing fire drills once a month if not more, they now take on the added burden and responsibility of practicing “Shelter in Place” and “Active Shooter” drills.
When it comes to marketing, making a buck seems all too often to take priority, pushing ethics, morality, credibility and integrity to the side. I well understand there are few bounds. That’s the reality in an unstable economy.
A dozen or so years ago when I served as a senior copy desk editor at a respected family-owned newspaper in northern New Jersey with a steadily declining subscription base, expert advisors were brought in to help us figure out just what we were doing wrong and how to change our fortunes around.
We suspect that the company spent well over a million dollars to educate us all on “branding” and on improving the “product.” With such a price tag, it unnerved us all the more since none of us had seen a raise or a cost-of-living increase in our paychecks for years.
At a company seminar, we were taught what we could all do to cut costs and work even harder at taking on additional responsibility (i.e. absorbing the workload of those already laid off) all for the greater good.
During one such seminar, I will never forget, a young, sandy-haired sports editor with a gentle manner and a native of the Mid-West listened intently to an advisor telling us that “branding” the “product” in the minds of consumers was the all-important goal and key to our survival in a changing economy and the world of social media.
This young, quiet editor, who in my memory may have uttered two or three dozen words aloud in the five or so years that I worked with him, smiled at our instructor, shook his head and rose to his feet, a hand raised with a question.
“I’m just curious,” he asked, his eyes darting about the room at the rest of us. “This here is a newspaper, right?”
Our advisor acknowledged that he was indeed correct.
“Well,” he said, his Mid-West drawl at the more apparent, “if that’s the case, regarding the ‘product,’ just when the fuck did we start making widgets?”
No fake news here. And the reality is becoming all the more bleaker.
Trumpy Bear, seriously, have you no shame?