Meet Mark Penn.
April 30, 2007 7:29 PM   Subscribe

Meet Mark Penn. Pollster to Hillary Clinton and Corporate America. Penn came up with terms like "Soccer Moms" and "Office Park Dads", and if you're reading metafilter you're probably an e-fluential (you can take a quiz to find out. And don't forget about the momfluentials! Oh, and remember, when talking about the war, don't ever use the word mistake. Hillary Isn't)
posted by delmoi (32 comments total)
In other news, there's a term called "Office Park Dads." Seriously, have I been living under a rock, or is this term new?
posted by NoMich at 7:34 PM on April 30, 2007

From today's A Tiny Revolution.
posted by facetious at 7:34 PM on April 30, 2007

Here's The article where Penn seems to coin the term. Written for the DLC no less.
posted by delmoi at 7:38 PM on April 30, 2007

I'm a dad; I take my son to the park every day; why do I feel so frigging disenfranchised?
posted by Dizzy at 7:39 PM on April 30, 2007

Oh, I get it:
"Office Park Dads" are what we used to call "Frat Boys".
'Cept now they're All Growed Up.
The Dems Are Doomed.
posted by Dizzy at 7:44 PM on April 30, 2007

Dizzy: Imagine endless fields of freshly mowed green grass. Acres and acres. Now imagine an office tower. Imagine the office tower split up floor by floor and each floor spread out at random on those fields. Add roofs on each floor, and add windows and doors so that the floors look like strip malls. Then add roads and parking lots. That's an office park. It's not somewhere you'd want to take your kids.
posted by delmoi at 7:47 PM on April 30, 2007

I just realized that I interviewed with this guy for a job in polling research in NYC about 10 years ago. Thank god that one didn't pan out!
posted by The Straightener at 7:52 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hey, fucker -- what's my psychographic profile?
posted by ericb at 8:08 PM on April 30, 2007

The War was a Mistake.

Hillary doesn't have to say it.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:08 PM on April 30, 2007

Subdue the masses with nonstop polling. Disturb everyone's dinner. Really, it is worth it.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:16 PM on April 30, 2007

Oh I never use the word mistake when crime covers it so much more accurately. Mistake implies misdirected intent: there is really no case for anything but crime here, and that certainly includes the Hil. Sorry, babe, et al.
posted by mwhybark at 8:18 PM on April 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

clusterfuck ... that's the word i was looking for ...
posted by pyramid termite at 8:26 PM on April 30, 2007

I was a "soccer mom" for about three months, then my daughter got tired of soccer and moved on to other pursuits... Now I'm a nobody (demographically-speaking).
posted by amyms at 8:34 PM on April 30, 2007

Did he invent the mini-van and Capri Sun pouches too?
posted by clearly at 8:45 PM on April 30, 2007

The ultimate swing demographic must certainly be the mandingo moms.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:30 PM on April 30, 2007 [3 favorites]

Did he invent the mini-van and Capri Sun pouches too?
Yes. Yes he did. And Febreze, and coming soon: National Health Care, finally.
posted by longsleeves at 9:39 PM on April 30, 2007

Your good fortune, The Straightener - I worked for Penn+Schoen my first job out of college. Except for the 105 hour work weeks, being screamed at regularly, the weird personal hygiene, the creepy sense of overwhelming greed, and the overall vibe of constant chaos and inhumanity, it was a great gig...

Seriously, though, Penn is a brilliant analyst of public opinion. I hope he loses this one, but he's successful more often than most campaign consultants.
posted by twsf at 9:41 PM on April 30, 2007

"A year and a half ago, Penn was named CEO of Burson-Marsteller..."

Certainly not this Burson-Marsteller?
posted by tighttrousers at 10:09 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

After watching "The Power of Nightmares" and it's companion peice "The Century of the Self", I have a great aversion to pollsters, political advicors, PR firms, and anything related to marketing (and yet I must engage in marketing on a daily, if not hourly basis for my start-up company). I can see, too easily, the levels and strings that get pulled in order to "sell" a product, be it a politician or a bar of soap. It kind of sickens me, especially when I find myself compelled by a sales pitch, or an aesthetic used in a marketing campaign (though honestly, most of the ones I end up liking the most are from former Soviet block countries, so at least it's mildly distorted by that whole schtick).

The saddest part is seeing someone who works for a marketing firm who has been totally inundated by the hype. They actually believe the lines they are selling. You know, the ones who can't help but repeat marketing slogans and PR jargon whenever they are at parties or at the bar. They can't actually think of the actual words to describe something that isn't printed on the label (or plastered on a bumpersticker). The world has been catalogued and labeled for them. They don't need to think of anything beyond what the packaging tells them to believe. When I'm in a sadistic mood, I tend to rip these people apart (or suggest they try psycotropic drugs).

As for the Burson-Marsteller issue: yeah, and you expected something else? Marketing/PR firms are the absolute lowest of the low in ethical reasoning. They don't make anything. They are not manufacturers, they are not artists. They are spin. Everything is on message, focused to get that emotional lizard-brain reaction from the masses (you are not an individual, you are a catalogued focus group, with certail statistical variances that should 'resonate' with you and can be used to convince you to 'buy' whatever they are selling). Are you a soccer-mom? They'll play on your focus on your kids. Are you an office-park dad? They'll go for your sense of escapism and pick at your feelings of inhumaniity from your cubicle farm. Web-nerd/geek? Welcome to "Web 4.5". If you can pay their price, they'll deliver the demographic to you (liberal, conservative, rich, poor, young, old). They trade in public opinion and work to create brand loyalty. They want you to identify with whatever they are asked to sell.
It is joked about that the only reason National Socialism never took hold in America was because they didn't hire the right PR firm. Burson-Marsteller (or any of the major PR firms for that matter) will sell you a suicide machine, if the price is right.

This message brought to you by Fear and Loathing™.
posted by daq at 10:52 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure what's more insulting: the Democrat's expectation that they deserve the votes of the hard left, or that they keep bringing in people like this to spit on us. Is there a Dem consultant that isn't a douche?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:15 PM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

good god I can't believe I did that to an apostrophe, like seriously what the hell is wrong with me
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:17 PM on April 30, 2007

Meet Mark Penn.

posted by psmealey at 3:47 AM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

It is joked about that the only reason National Socialism never took hold in America was because they didn't hire the right PR firm.

Well, that and the fact that Americans are so vehemently opposed to taxation...
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:31 AM on May 1, 2007

He's one of those whattyacallit - asshats.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:42 AM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

For people who are so vehemently opposed to taxation, we sure give the government a lot of money. What's left over mostly goes to insurance companies.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:44 AM on May 1, 2007

and if you're reading metafilter you're probably an e-fluential

I believe that should be effluential.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:50 AM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

That'd Mark Penn, Benny Andajetz. Effluential as in full of shit.
posted by Floydd at 6:22 AM on May 1, 2007

Hiring people like Penn is a great reason to not vote for Hillary.
We don't need his kind whispering sweet corporate friendly DLC musings into her ear.
A prime example of Republican Lite.
Hell, if I want Republican I'll vote Republican and get the real thing.
posted by nofundy at 6:25 AM on May 1, 2007

Trying to fit everyone into "buckets" so that you can create a "message" that appeals to the desired "demographic" creates a milquetoast, toothless candidate. Hillary has already doomed herself by trying to be both for the war and against it. She's riding the bullshit express to a memorable, Bill Buckner/'86 Red Sox-style collapse.

Reagan had a better idea - create a likable persona (!) and people don't give a crap about your policy. Really! Issues voting has limited utility; talking about issues in this country is mostly a matter of not stepping on a land mine and getting someone pissed. If you have a large persona, like Obama is developing, you can afford to take a stand, aka spend some "political capital" in order to cement your standing with the party faithful, whose support is necessary to get to the general election. People like Obama, so he can afford to piss off some of them on some issues, because most people are not single-issue voters. If people like you, they don't have to agree with you on every single issue. Bill had this kind of broad appeal, and Obama is developing it as well.

Note that likable need not mean the same as "nice". McCain was likable when he was an angry outsider; now he's a sleazy toady to the powers-that-be (and also doomed by simultaneous support for and disavowal of the Iraq war).
posted by Mister_A at 6:36 AM on May 1, 2007

Someone like Dick Morris (another former Clintonista) perfectly embodies what people like Penn ultimately stand for: winning at all costs and allegiance to nothing or no one but the highest bidder.
posted by psmealey at 7:30 AM on May 1, 2007

I remember doing a job once for this boutique marketing firm in NYC and was disgusted when I leafed through their pitchbook to see all of their "success" stories about how they used all these subtle techniques to market to children it was so detail oriented down the the right color combinations for particular products. I don't think it was the same company but there is a segment of The Corporation (the most important movie ever made IMO) where a marketing exec proudly discusses "the nag factor" that they strive for when marketing to children. As someone else mentions above I also wholeheartedly recommend The Century of The Self for further information on how Americans have been bred as cattle. If you want change in this country it cannot begin without the depersonification of the corporation.
posted by any major dude at 8:40 AM on May 1, 2007

"We don't need his kind whispering sweet corporate friendly DLC musings into her ear."

You're right. Considering that Billy boy was DLC chair, I'd guess she can mutter sweet DLC nothings in her own ear pretty well...
posted by stenseng at 12:55 PM on May 1, 2007

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