Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Asset or liability?

Last week, the Candie's Foundation announced at a media event that Bristol Palin is their new "ambassador." The organization was founded to raise awareness and discuss ways to combat teen pregnancy after the fashion company, as the New York Times put it, came "under fire from critics who accused [Candie's] of dressing high schoolers like tarts." Meanwhile, Candie's product spokesmodel Britney Spears is promoting, well, you probably already know what Britney Spears is promoting.

All well and good — unless maybe your mom may want to run for President of the United States someday.

As any politico as experienced as Sarah Palin surely knows, either your children are off limits to the press and public, like the youngster Obama girls, or they step into the spotlight and takes their chances, like the adult Meghan McCain.

Politically, the pertinent question about the 18-year-old Bristol's new spokesperson status is: would it be an asset or a liability to a future Palin for President campaign? Would Bristol perhaps had as much or greater effect on teens had she mounted a lower-profile statewide campaign to her fellow Alaskans, under the national media radar? What were the identified political risks of Bristol's signing on with Candie's? Strictly from a brand management standpoint, what would George W. Bush or Barack Obama have done under similar circumstances?

Like it or not, every move by every Palin family member, from her guy Todd to little Trig and into the outer branches of the family tree, is being and will be examined by the opposition (outside and inside the Republican Party) for possible political advantage. If she hasn't already, Gov. Palin may face a Carrie Prejean moment, in which she must decide which is more important: making a statement or winning the crown (and then making the statement).

As the New York Times demonstrates, all the media has to do is cast doubt: "But when a teenager goes out on this kind of mission, you have to wonder where her parents’ heads were. What does this say about Sarah Palin’s judgment? Although we’ve sort of answered that question before."

Cross-posted at Sarah's Web Brigade.

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