OgilvyEngage is built on Ogilvy Public Relations’ nearly 30-year legacy of social marketing, a proven discipline that applies principles and techniques to prompt and support behaviors that benefit society as well as the individual. Our expertise has crafted award-winning public health and safety campaigns to get people to buckle up, get screened for colon cancer, purchase flood insurance and more…
According to Ogilvy:
While movements to educate or drive awareness about social issues are vital, affecting the components of personal behavior — our attitudes, our motivations, our abilities, and more — can push people toward actions that matter: the routine purchase of socially responsible goods and products or the use of or engagement with socially conscious services.
This is disgusting in a way the simple profit motive is not. The profit motive is honest and essentially respectful: it assumes, if it does not always emphasize, the dignity and self-direction of everyone involved. The concept of government hiring PR firms to “prompt and support behaviors that benefit society as well as the individual” is neither honest nor respectful. It assumes that there is some human entity that knows better than you, me, and most other people what each of us ought to be spending his hard-earned money on – and, in the case of health care, what the best outcome is for each of us, regardless of any individual factor.
It is extremely disrespectful to assume about the people that they need to be hectored – at their own expense – into behaving differently. In one sense, it’s what hellfire-and-damnation preachers do from the pulpit: pass the collection plate, and warn us of terrible consequences if we don’t change our behavior. But, of course, we aren’t compelled to give those preachers our business. Obamacare is nothing if not a daily demonstration that a few very foolish, transient voting majorities have effectively commissioned the US government to perform this quasi-religious role in our lives.
The result is that PR firms, laden with revolving-door political employees, are slavering to be paid – by us, through confiscation of our earnings – to make us believe among other things that whatever HHS says about “comparative effectiveness” is gospel truth. (The importance of comparative effectiveness arguments centers wholly on justifying the denial of procedures and treatments. Selling the public on the idea that it’s selfish or vainglorious to prefer treatment that gives you a better quality of life, over treatment – or non-treatment – that is cheaper and less trouble for a government-managed health care industry, is a marvelous challenge for a PR philosopher.)
Obamacare was always going to create tremendous “opportunities” for lobbying and PR. I don’t have to care what advertising firms do for their private clients. If I’m not interested in the product, I don’t have to pay a cent for what the ad agency does. If I do care, I can vote with my spending dollar. But Obamacare unleashes a government-mandated PR-and-lobbying avalanche that we can’t simply tune out. It forces all of us to pay not only to participate in the system, but to be lectured, enticed, misled, and lied to about it.
More firms, more connections: The avalanche grows
The ways in which this differs from the propaganda organs of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Communist world are less and less significant with each day that passes. Meanwhile, the avalanche is gaining momentum. In early October, yet another PR contract for Obamacare was announced: this one with the PR firm Weber Shandwick, a subsidiary of Interpublic Group, through which the usual herd of Obama campaign/administration graduates appears to cycle (one of many examples here). The CEO of Weber Shandwick, Jack Leslie, got his start in political lobbying as an aide to Senator Ted Kennedy; in 2009, President Obama appointed him chairman of the United States African Development Foundation, crowning Leslie’s years of board work for missions of the UN High Commission on Refugees.
In the incestuous world of government PR, Weber Shandwick’s point persons for the Obamacare contract come with the usual ties. Karen Oliver, a senior vice president at Weber subsidiary Powell Tate, who will lead the account work for the contract, moved to Weber from Porter Novelli in March of 2012. Her assignment: to work on the Medicare and Medicaid Services account. Oliver and her new boss, Pam Jenkins, worked together at Ogilvy in the past.