PROMAX/BDA: Former President Clinton Challenges the Crowd


Bill Clinton, his mood shifting from restrained to impassioned over the course of an hour-long speech at Promax in New York today, challenged the TV crowd to shape the message of the future, whether it relates to television, politics, or vital world issues. Speaking to a jammed ballroom at the New York Hilton, Clinton emphasized the importance of branding in the modern era—how Republicans effectively branded issues such as the death tax and the concept of voter "values" and how the Democrats failed miserably at it.

Wearing a gray pinstriped suit, Clinton pointed to his own failure to effectively sell wife Hillary’s infamous healthcare plan to both Congress and the public. "I did a disservice to the American people not by putting forth a bad plan, but by being a bad brander," he said.

He also stressed the importance of "interdependence," be it as a nation or an individual, in sorting out conflict and addressing serious issues, and urged the crowd not to play along with "cartoon" versions of issues put forth by the media and partisan politics.

Gathering momentum as the speech progressed, Clinton pointed out that human beings, regardless of race, religion or gender, are 99.9% the same. He said he was "awestruck" that he was 99.9% similar to his pal Nelson Mandela, then joked about how he ran into Rush Limbaugh recently at a restaurant in New York, and declined to point out to the conservative pundit that the two adversaries too were nearly identical. "I thought, the poor man will run screaming from the restaurant," he said.

Finally, Clinton pushed for optimism and faith, and conveying that message in branding. He grew emotional as he told a story of touring Indonesia with the former president George Bush after the tsunami. He met a mother who’d lost nine of her ten children, but proudly showed him her newborn, and asked Clinton t to name the child. Clinton consulted his guide for the local word for "new beginning," and was told it was "Dawn," which became the child’s name.

"How do we brand the 21st century?" Clinton asked to a rousing ovation.