Friday, March 22, 2013

Political Correctness and Endorsements

This afternoon I was driving back from a meeting in the Bay Area and heard an NPR type interviewing a "branding" expert who joked about whether the tie-in that Marriott corporation has established with the new movie about Jackie Robinson would increase the number of African-Americans using the Marriott Rewards program.

According to the NYT and Apoorva Gandhi, vice president for multicultural markets and alliances with Marriott, the tie in "matches our culture, theme and values." The NYT story babbled on about how this program would increase Marriott's ties with minorities. The sage Mr. Ghandi said "We want to reach multicultural travelers in a unique way that will cut through the clutter and resonate in a way that reaches them personally.”

The sage on NPR guffawed about the unlikelihood that this tie in would rope in more African Americans.   There was an earlier version of a bio-pic where Jackie Robinson played himself.  As I remember the movie it was not much to write home about.  The chatter on this movie has been pretty good.  Oddly the earlier version said nothing about Gil Hodges

I have a special feeling for Robinson, even though he went to UCLA.   He was a class act.   And so this recognition in a bio-pic will be good for all fans of baseball.   And that is the point.  Summer months, I suspect, a lot of families go on road trips.   Part of that experience is to go to a baseball game.  From my perspective the appeal of this movie is not based on race (although that is a critical part of the story).   I share the critic's questions about whether a tie-in will bring one group of consumers into a hotel rewards program.  But I suspect the chances would be greater for enlarging the "rewards program members of summer" were they to do a more direct tie in with baseball.   

Robinson got his chance in good part because he was very good at baseball but also because an unlikely guy like Branch Rickey decided it was time to make a change in baseball.   Robinson was a ground breaker, but as I mentioned yesterday, I would never describe him as a person from a "marginalized group."   On April 12, when the movie is released, I will be one of the first to see it not because of the Marriott endorsement.  I can only hope that the movie shows something about the real life of Robinson and not some politically correct impression.   Robinson and Rickey's story is good enough by itself without all the PC that seems to infect a lot of our heroes today. BTW, I already am a member of Marriott Rewards.

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