Let's examine publicity for just a moment. The dictionary describes it as, "extensive mention in the news media or by word of mouth or other means of communication." Good publicity, therefore, is essentially people being cognizant and chattering about something for all of the right reasons. Bad publicity then must be a negative press and public perception.

Now, to conjure these perceptions, people are paid millions of dollars and brag about how learned they are in the fields of PR and mental manipulation. It's a system being carried by a swarm pitch men, constantly trying to break through the clutter of propaganda with even more junk.

The reason Air Force One, replete with its military escort of two F-16s, flew close to the New York City skyline, rattling windows, sending people scrambling out of their offices and homes and invoking horrid flashbacks of 9/11 was for the most idiotic, bone-headed, incompetent reason one could think of. It was to please the ad-men, who wanted a new photo-shoot for Air Force One.

Just who thought this was a good idea? If the Obama administration is about substance and not style, why was this whole scheme approved, let alone the knuckleheads who conjured it hired in the first place? Sure, there's an "investigation" going on about it (and it's $328,835 price tag,) but who actually thinks that will go anywhere?

Phew, that's a lot of questions. The issue at the heart of the fury, that isn't really being touched upon, is this whole idea that image is, in fact, everything. There's little need for new pictures of Air Force One, it's not like it's undergone a radical redesign, or been equipped with giant mechanical siphons to suck cash out of the pockets of the Wall Street elite (that's still in R&D).

But, and I'm sure this is what the ad-men were arguing, it's a new administration! There must be pictures of Air Force One close to the economic center of the country, to show that Obama flies close to the heart of America's pocketbooks and portfolios! All we have to do is fly a little bit close to the skyline, no one will notice, and then we'll just fly off again.

Everyone knows what Air Force One is. We all know it's a big, fancy plane with all sorts of expensive amenities and perhaps comes equipped with Harrison Ford. Who cares what the American people think about it? It's a necessary mode of transportation. It's like making a big to-do about Obama changing his brand of pen. Who in their right mind gives a darn if he's switching to Bic or not.

To boil it down a bit, these sort of photo-ops and PR/marketing efforts are Giant Cheetos. They're the product of a bunch of folks is suits, sitting around a table, brainstorming with a bit of the firm's interests in mind, but mostly it's their own jobs at stake. They have to come up with new ideas, otherwise their previous success negates their future job security. And so at Frito-Lay, some idiot though that the best thing to do with this Cheetos brand would be to make the individual Cheeto awkwardly gigantic, solving the long-standing problem of customers being able to chew the snacks.
In the same manner, someone in the Obama administration thought throwing caution and good taste into the wind to snap a few new pictures of Air Force One would be a brilliant idea. Just like someone thought the "Mission Accomplished" banner would work out nicely, or that Dukakis would look rugged peeking out of a tank. There comes a point where people have to realize that the role for smoke and mirrors is over, that airbrushing an image for the millionth time won't get anything done. Sometimes, politicians and brands have to be able to speak for themselves, without a shallow supporting cast.