Historic Commercialization and the Making of 'Dead Presidents'

Friday, November 22, 2013 by Kevin W. Reszel

The ongoing commercialism of historic events and legacies never ceases to amaze me. This week, while watching the CBS Sunday Morning program (entirely dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination) I was honestly shocked and amazed to see an advert for a certain 1950s/60s crooner with a long storied and often reported as suspicious connection to the 35th President.   

Fifty one minutes into the broadcast, during a commercial break, a brief spot ran for who else ... 'old blue eyes', 'the chairman of the board', 'the sultan of swoon' ... Francis Albert Sinatra.  Much like the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, the spot heralded its own anniversary connection - the much anticipated/historic (NOT) 20th anniversary of the Sinatra Best of Duets Album, now available at Target! 

Yikes!  The awkward and hinky connections to the CBS Sunday Morning program and the Sinatra advert abound, amaze and horrify. Both celebrate an anniversary; one of a brutally slain President and the other of a brutally mediocre singer.  The CBS Sunday Morning program discussed how JFK was a 'target' on that fateful day in Dallas while the advert promoted how viewers could drive to their local 'Target' to pick up this latest Sinatra musical extravaganza.     

Make no mistake, I know my industry and I know how important it is to place your ad within a medium/audience that will ultimately boost your brand/product or service awareness within your iDEAl 'Target' (pun intended) market, but come on!  Soliciting and running a spot featuring a Rat Pack buddy that had a much talked about and often scrutinized relationship with the 35th President of the United States, during a 'celebrated' and heartfelt historic look at a man who's life was tragically cut short ... feels oh so very wrong and creepy.  

Not to mention (but I will) the Sinatra spot conveniently interrupted a spot for Habitat for Humanity.  I guess in the end, we can all begin to forget about the former definition of Camelot when it comes to this historic event.  Instead, we should change it to Cam-A-Lot which is defined in this sell, sell, sell day and age as; Campaign A Lot - especially during isolated subject-matter broadcasts to potentially make a lot of money or in this case Dead Presidents?  Commercializing history and historic events for the almighty dollar is in itself historic and tragic, like the events that unfolded in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963.