Monday, July 27, 2009

Burson-Marsteller CEO, and campaign advisor to Senator Hillary Clinton, Mark Penn, discusses the ever-splintering subsets that Americans identify with, and what they mean. In Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, Penn draws lessons from small but influential groups such as "soccer moms" and "Nascar dads," and looks at how they affect business, culture, technology, diet, politics, and education in this country.


Mark Penn

Comments [15]

Igon from Paterson

Penn is full of malarchy...& that's not an adhominem attack. Keep taking your blood money from dictators & their ilk.

Jul. 27 2009 11:35 PM
Jeff Putterman from Queens

Gene, Your point about pro bono work is excellent.

I am glad, as an Obama supporter, that Penn worked for Hillary. Anyone in the Obama campaign will tell you that by winning the "extra" votes in each caucus state (in a common-sensical, mathematically driven way -- which I would expect a Stuyvesant grad like Axelrod to know) Obama had this nomination sewn up before Hillary began, with that lowlife Penn behind her, to go so negative.

Seems like poor PigPenn has few friends.

Jul. 27 2009 04:47 PM

Burson-Marsteller, the master of fake-grass-roots activism, used to try hard to keep underground, apparently adhering to the theory that if you don't know it's advertising, you're more likely to believe it.

A classically scurrilous example is B-M's "National Smokers' Alliance," built for Philip Morris. In fact, its 20 or so real members (not 3 million, as NSA claimed) still enjoy a supported web site.

B-M's power to surreptitiously reach the public, and convince it, was incredible. Half the things we _think we know_ about corporate activities are undoubtedly courtesy of B-M and its ilk.

This new openness of B-M makes me think that some essential arms have moved even further underground, possibly to address new venues on the Internet, message boards, etc. New ways to convince the public, without a soul knowing where the info is coming from.

And NO ONE knows "image manipulation" (B-M's term) better. They know what it takes to sway people, and they know that if a seed is planted in fertile ground, and it takes 5-10 years to grow into a sturdy (if diseased) oak--well, that's just the nature of their business.

As message #1 says--for anyone who has the faintest idea what's really going on in this country, Burson-Marsteller and Penn are just despicable. They're destroying our traditions and our honor; our health and our children; our government and our very moral fiber--all for corporate gain.

One more thing: even major corporate law firms like Skadden Arps has a pro-bono section. I've never heard of B-M offering their astoundingly powerful services for any public good.

Jul. 27 2009 01:21 PM
Stella Katz from New York City

Thanks for another wonderful show, Leonard (although Mark Penn - a snake oil salesman and world class spin doctor with nothing to say - gave me more agita than I can deal with on a Monday morning).

Jul. 27 2009 12:57 PM
Ricardo222 from Queens

Penn is the genius behind the failed attempt to put lipstick on the pig that was Blackwater, now known as Xi. This man has a black hole for a soul and an unlimited willingness to take money from like-minded scum.

Jul. 27 2009 12:35 PM

My first thought Mr. Puterman, was how surprisingly bad he was esp as head of the biggest worldwide PR firm - supposed to understand communication and the climates it's taking place in

Jul. 27 2009 12:31 PM
Gary from UWS

I'm glad this is being recorded. Whatever this guy says will be dead wrong in the future.

Jul. 27 2009 12:26 PM
hjs from 11211

for shame!
let the buyer beware!!
investors need to look out for themselves!!!

Jul. 27 2009 12:26 PM
Peter from Crown Heights

As for the Starbucks example... I feel that what has hurt them isn't so much competition from's changes made within to try and maintain their extraordinary growth.

When the store introduced "egg mcmuffin" style hot sandwiches they tipped the store from a gourmet coffee shop with a few add ons, to something else.

Having worked in retail coffee for a good part of my life, I've always called this the "Soup Indicator". Any time a coffee shop starts offering Hot Soup as a way to increase profits (which happens often), you know they're struggling to find ways to increase sales/profits. Invariably a dilution of the brand and brand experience.

Jul. 27 2009 12:16 PM
Steve from Manhattan

I just want to say I completely agree with Mr. Putterman's first three paragraphs. No need to personally attack Penn, though.
His performance during the Clinton campaign completely invalidates anything he has to say here, no matter what the subject.
He is just like Bill Kristol - a man with bad information and false arguments. Why do these guys continue to receive platforms to disseminate their useless ideas?

Jul. 27 2009 12:15 PM

Perhaps what's at the rock bottom of our economic crisis is that we are one of the lowest exporters of any industrial nation.

Jul. 27 2009 12:12 PM
Jeff Putterman from Queens

Polly, while I understand your point, we all spent too much time last year being exposed to this intellectually vapid charlatan. And believe me, I was being civil compared with my ability to express my true disgust for this clown.

Jul. 27 2009 11:53 AM
Polly from manhattan

BTW, Mr. Putterman, congratulations for invalidating the idea that NPR listeners are invariably civil and given to reasoned discourse. Your ad hominem attack will certainly allow Mr. Penn to feel self-justified in disqualifying your comment.

Was that the effect you were trying for?

Jul. 27 2009 11:29 AM
Polly from manhattan

What does Mr. Penn think of the idea that emphasizing an opponent's exotic background by using the word "American" as a brand is divisive and jingoistic?

Jul. 27 2009 11:18 AM
Jeff Putterman from Queens

With all due respect (which means absolutely none whatsoever) Mark Penn is a fraud. His knowledge of what he advises on is nil, or less than that.

(He had no idea, for example, how the caucus system worked in the democratic primary -- which, luckily for us, cost Hillary the nomination.)

So why is a station I support wasting air time and money allowing him to promote a book no one should read? I am deadly serious about this!!!

And he is a disgusting example of what happens to ugly people who eat too much.

Jul. 27 2009 10:49 AM

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