What might Hill & Knowlton, Fleishman-Hillard or Edelman Public Relations do if they were given the marketing campaign for INFRASTRUCTURE? It’s a terrible word in desperate need of rebranding. What self-respecting PR firm would not jump at the chance to persuade Americans to spend their hard earned dollars on infrastructure instead of tablets or timeshares?
Although not really hard to spell and broadly understood in its scope, the word is boring and lacks the spice needed to capture the limited attention span of the overstimulated minds of 21st century humans, not to mention Members of Congress.
Infrastructure lacks a distinctive logo and does not have the memorable tag line that is so priceless to soft drink makers, auto manufacturers and political candidates. Surely if just one of these modern-day incarnations of Mad Men could take up the challenge to glorify the merits of infrastructure, Americans of all stripes would run right out and adopt a highway, vote in favor of a bond issue to improve water systems or boycott companies that provide poor quality Internet services.
The answer to improving the nation’s dismal level of investment in the foundations of a globally-competitive economy must lie in improving the flash and zeal of the marketing. After all, billions are spent each year on those plucky advertising executives who, by the turn of a phrase or a tightly-focused camera angle, induce millions of people to flock to one brand or another.
Without an ad campaign, all that’s left to convince people are countless studies by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Urban Land Institute and the Chamber of Commerce. Clearly, more research studies make little difference. Less substance and more style is needed. What firm did Boeing use to secure the Pentagon contract for the new air refueling tanker?
A good first step is to find a compelling spokesperson will help stir the cause of infrastructure similar to the way Al Gore’s efforts invigorated attention to climate change. What’s needed is a person of solid reputation with immense knowledge on the subject and a simple, clear message that normal people can understand. What’s Angelina Jolie doing these days?