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Rolling Stone, Groupon Show The Viral Benefits of Historical Inaccuracy
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Rolling Stone, Groupon Show The Viral Benefits of Historical Inaccuracy

Apr 11 2014, 8:19am CDT | by

null What a great man was John Hancock, whose bold signature graces our Constitution.  His legacy matches that of one of our greatest Presidents, Alexander Hamilton.  Discuss. Who cares if these...

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15 weeks ago

Rolling Stone, Groupon Show The Viral Benefits of Historical Inaccuracy

Apr 11 2014, 8:19am CDT | by

null What a great man was John Hancock, whose bold signature graces our Constitution.  His legacy matches that of one of our greatest Presidents, Alexander Hamilton.  Discuss.

Who cares if these facts are wrong?  As long as people are talking about your company, they are talking about your company.  

This week, Americans were greeted by another historically inaccurate advertisementThe cover (I use the term advertisement to accurately describe its intended use) of Rolling Stone features a nude, partially exposed Julia Louis-Dreyfus with the Constitution preamble printed on her back, below which bears the signature of John Hancock, the largest autograph on the Declaration of Independence.  In short, Rolling Stone, you have the right era but the wrong document.  Hancock signed his name large so that George III could read it, and thereby ensured his fame, but he did not attend the Constitutional Convention, where that document was drafted. Constitution it was not. Declaration it was.

But no matter. Nudity, controversy, and virality are a tough match for history.   After all, as Groupon.com taught us earlier this year, Alexander Hamilton was a President of the United States.  An advertisement that company put out for Presidents Day identified him as such, and people who use and do not use Groupon, including this writer, were talking about it for days. Never mind that Hamilton never held this position.  He served as George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury and though rumors abounded of his tinkering with American presidential politics, he never even ran for the position.

In both these cases, the story, replete with moral outrage from the Twitter-sphere, went viral, generating the desired attention.

These inaccuracies are likely (successful) publicity stunts.  How can a large company, with writers, editors, and consultants, make such a mistake, when there are so many layers of proofing and checking and re-checking?  Probably it could not.  Requests for comment elicit generally tongue in cheek responses, such as Dreyfus’s tweet that she was “in a drunken stupor,” a reference to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Groupon later dropped the pretense.  ”Most Presidents’ Day promotions make people fall asleep, so we wanted to do something different that was in line with our brand and sense of humor that got people talking and writing about Groupon,” a spokesperson wrote in an email to the Chicago Tribune.  It was funny, but was the joke on us?

The consequences of such an “error” must seem minuscule to a company in comparison to the benefits of water cooler gossip and thousands of links to your site.  Who cares really?  Most Americans grasp on the intricacies of history is weak anyway.  With this being the case, how many people talking about the story will care that John Hancock’s signature is below the wrong document?  In 2007, a US Mint poll showed that only 7 percent of those surveyed could name the first four Presidents in order. A later poll by Marist was not more encouraging. Misleading ads, whether intentional or otherwise, do not help clarify the collective confusion.

And you, reader, who might be tempted to form an opinion about this “controversy,” do you know John Hancock?  Here are 5 things you might not have known about our former “President”.

- Yes, he was a President but not of the United States.  Hancock was President of the Continental Congress and also the Marine Board (see image for proof) during much of the Revolutionary War;

- Hancock was a wealthy shipping merchant in the colonies, in fact one of the wealthiest men in America.  He had much to lose by openly advocating independence;

- Like Mitt Romney, he was Governor of Massachusetts (twice);

- One of his closest friends, Samuel Adams, was also a Massachusetts Governor.  These two men were hated by the British crown more than most, and a special bounty was placed on their heads.  Had the colonists lost, they surely would have been first to the firing squad;

-  Hancock was not only the largest signer on the Declaration of Independence. He was the first.

But these are just facts.  Now let’s all talk about Rolling Stone’s new cover .  There’s a half naked famous person and she’s got the Constitution on her back.  And below that is the most famous signature in American history: John Hancock.  Tell your friends…

 
Update
10

6 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Cambodia's Famous Battambang Circus
KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was tol ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

6 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Sydney FC v West Ham United - Football United New Zealand Tour 2014
KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken into ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

6 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Federal Aviation Administration Bans All US Flights To Israel
KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the D ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

6 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Ser ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

6 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

INDIA-CHINA-DIPLOMACY-TRADE
PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in t ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Government Weekly Cabinet Meeting
KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 millio ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

Iskandar Johor Open - Previews
JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an allocation of RM20 mill ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM - Day One
PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Baza ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skyway (Ki ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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