One patriotic ad since Sept. 11th that stands out is a tourism promo in which President Bush makes a cameo. Bob talks to the Travel Industry Association’s Vice President Betsy O’Rourke about booking the biggest celebrity endorsement ever.
The President's Commercial
December 15, 2001
BOB GARFIELD: If you've watched any television over the past 3 weeks you've almost certainly seen an unusual ad from the Travel Industry Association which has spent more than 12 million dollars encouraging Americans to go about their business and pleasure (emphasis on the "go") -- pilots, cruise ship crews, hotel staffs and flight attendants stand as one, quoting the words of President Bush that we must not "cower in our homes but resume our normal traveling lives." The unusual addition though is George W. Bush himself making a rare presidential appearance in a TV commercial. [MUSIC: AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL]
GEORGE W. BUSH: Take your families and enjoy life, the way want it to be enjoyed.
MAN: Come fly and see our "purple mountain majesties."
WOMAN: Take a drive down Route 66.
MAN: Spend a few days with us. Even a few weeks.
WOMEN: Enjoy our great theme parks.
WOMAN: Sail with me "from sea to shining sea."
GEORGE W. BUSH: The world is beginning to see the best of this great land.
MEN: We are here to serve you. [MUSIC ENDS]
BOB GARFIELD: Joining us now is Betsy O'Rourke, senior vice president for marketing at the Travel Industry Association. Betsy, welcome to OTM.
BETSY O'ROURKE: Thank you.
BOB GARFIELD: Ordinarily the White House not only frowns on the use of the president's image-- it, it typically sends out very pointed letters ordering advertisers to cease and desist from using the president's image. How did you get the White House to go along with this?
BETSY O'ROURKE: Well this would be a huge economic stimulus if we can get people back to normal, if you will, given travel and tourism's significant economic impact. This is precedent-setting from the point of view that it's the first time the president's image has been used in a domestic campaign, but it's wor--worth noting that he did not, you know, create an ad for the travel industry. This was literally with their permission using sound bites from speeches that he had given which were in the public domain and permitting us to repeat those lines in the context of travel. This is not the first time a president has been in an ad. As it turns out, his father participated in an industry ad for travel and tourism which only aired in the UK and Japan immediately after the Gulf War. At that time travel had come to a virtual standstill and international travel to the United States had fallen steeply.
BOB GARFIELD: Did the White House hem and haw before making its decision or was it quick to give you the permission?
BETSY O'ROURKE:Well, we had to work with the legal and communications folks within the White House. A number of scripts were submitted and finally the one that you've seen was proved. I mean certainly they'd spent a long time, you know, giving this careful consideration. They approved it all along the way, and they were great partners.
BOB GARFIELD: Very well.
BETSY O'ROURKE: Thank you.
BOB GARFIELD: Betsy O'Rourke is the senior vice president for marketing at the Travel Industry Association.