Obama Beat : Vacation marketing is in the spotlight
A weekly gleaning of news reports about President Obama's vacation; where he will stay, what he will do and references to the Island (called Hollywood East, didn't you know?) and Islanders that may surprise some.
• With the arrival of the Obama Family on Martha's Vineyard less than two weeks away, news outlets and White House staffers are gearing up for the Presidential visit.
On August 5, the White House press office issued a media advisory confirming for the press that the President would arrive on Sunday, August 23 and return to Washington, D.C. on Sunday, August 30.
A press file and briefing center will be set up at the Oak Bluffs School. But there is no free ride. Members of the media will have to pay a share of the costs for creating a workspace where they will have access to electric power, Internet and other services.
The White House office also said "no public events are scheduled during the trip."
The Obama Island itinerary may be private, but news outlets and Island businesses hope to capitalize on any public outings.
• Plum TV, a cable television network with stations in eight resort communities where the "affluent go to rejuvenate," including Aspen, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, sent out an email Monday to businesses, with an invitation to advertise and be a part of its daily Obama visit coverage.
Plum TV has high expectations for the presidential visit. The cable outlet described itself as the "'go to' station for the Obama visit."
The email also asked businesses to let Plum know if they "have been contacted for a visit, or have had a sighting."
• Having exhausted, for the time being, descriptions of where the Obamas would stay while on the Island (Blue Heron Farm), the press turned its attention to preparations for the visit, T-shirts and the Island's quickening pulse.
On Monday, under the headline, "Vineyard businesses brace for Obama blitz," Boston Herald gossip columnists Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa wrote, "It's 13 days until President Obama and his gals land on Martha's Vineyard for some R & R, but the island is already overcome with first family fever!"
The columnists reported that the Island was the focus of a recent visit by a team from Trip Advisor, the popular travel website.
"From the mandarin orange Obamatinis and Barack-o Tacos on the menu at Sharky's to the Bobama beefy dog treats from VinYips, the Rock is rockin' in anticipation of the Obamas' most excellent Vineyard adventure," the Herald gals wrote.
They also reported that retailers have produced "I Vacationed with the Obamas Vineyard 2009" T-shirts, the Offshore Ale Company has brewed a special Ale to the Chief and Espresso Love is baking a special Obama Muffin.
• The Friday Vineyard Gazette also took notice of the marketing efforts in a front-page story that provided a rundown of various memorabilia including T-shirts, hats, and a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle.
The story singled out a Circuit Avenue shop owned by selectman Kerry Scott. "The pet store Good Dog Goods is selling shirts emblazoned with the slogan Bobama, an ingenious reference to the First Family dog, a Portuguese water dog named Bo," the Gazette wrote.
The Gazette described the various preparations and pronounced, "There is a quiet quality to this Presidential visit compared with the Clinton years, due no doubt partly to the economy and also to the fact that the visit takes place in late August..."
The Edgartown weekly reported that so far the Presidential visit has not generated an uptick in rentals. But it has led to one tee time. "It is understood," the Gazette intoned, "that Mr. Obama has a tee time at the Vineyard Golf Club with his friend Vernon Jordan, who also summers in Chilmark."
• On Sunday, New York's Daily News speculated on the President's vacation plans under the headline, "No bigger residents than when President Obama and first fam visit Martha's Vineyard."
"Maybe he'll go for a sail with Caroline Kennedy and her ailing uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, aboard his 50-foot schooner," wrote the Daily News.
"Maybe he'll play some hoops at Oak Bluffs' lone public court, where the men's league boasts teams with names like the Stone Cold Hustlers."
Clearly unaware of what Vineyarders might have to say if they miss a ferry waiting in a line of traffic when the motorcade passes by, The Daily News said that whatever President Obama and his family choose to do on vacation on our "idyllic" Island would be fine with "the island's otherwise laid-back denizens."
The New York tabloid said guessing what Obama might do during his upcoming stay and pondering whether Chelsea Clinton might really be staging a secret wedding August 22, at actor Ted Danson's Chilmark house "have pretty much subsumed all other island gossip."
Clearly the reporter did not speak with any year-round Islanders, or he would have known that Islanders much prefer to gossip about other Islanders.
But he did speak to a New Yorker. "People are clamoring to see him, to be dazzled by that smile," said Linda Fairstein, the former Manhattan assistant district attorney and long-time Vineyarder. "But my hope for the family is that they can find places to be completely alone."