Branding and Message

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As you may know, Project Genesis is looking for a logo (separate from that of Torah.org — see the bar at right for your chance to win an MP3 player by helping us find one). Perhaps it’s only natural that I’m more attuned to message and branding issues than usual. Although, for the record, naming a Jewish journal “Cross-Currents” was not my idea.

In any event, I’m subscribed to a mailing list for a magazine called “Baltimore SmartCEO,” supposedly intended to help local small business CEO’s do a better job. In the mail this morning, they tell me the following:

After commiting $500,000 to a San Francisco-based branding firm, this week (the Baltimore Sun reports that) BACVA [Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association] will officially announce its new marketing slogan for the city of Baltimore:

Baltimore – Get In On It.

Then, they ask my opinion. Which could be succinctly stated as “no.” The phrase “Get In on It” is entirely too close to the title that Kool & the Gang burned into memory some 25 years ago, “Get Down on It” (the title was repeated incessantly throughout the song). “Get Down on Baltimore” — the sound of one hand clapping is heard throughout the city. They spent a half million dollars on this… typical of government bureaucracies, and, unfortunately, the great American Jewish institutions, trying to analyze why we’re assimilating.

Almost as good… the blog ad submitted last night, for promotion on Cross-Currents. It’s for a “great party” at a ballroom in New York. I’m not saying that none of our readers would be interested, but, at the very least, it’s not something we’d be likely to encourage.

But the poor fellow submitting it probably wasn’t looking too carefully.

When the ad was submitted, the lead article here was Rabbi Avi Shafran’s essay on the speech by A.B.Yehoshua. Rabbi Shafran is currently participating in a three-way debate over at the New Israel Fund’s blog on the topic of Israel’s Jewish character.

Yet the ad came from the New Israel Fund itself, despite Rabbi Shafran’s arguments against its vision of “tolerance.” The NIF’s stance on the Jewish character of the State of Israel seems to me to boil down to One Commandment: “Thou Shalt Have No Standards.” While it’s true we at Cross-Currents argue about many things, we do have a lot of common ground… and I don’t think the NIF would really like to advertise with us, anyway.

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3 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    Interesting blog at NIF. Yes. a RZ voice would be helpful-but one can read Chamesh Drashos of RYBS in English and see that RZ in its non messianist pre 1967 POV clearly viewed the alliance with secular Zionism as ending on any issue in which halacha was affected. IOW, secular Zionists, be they Mapainiks or even a nonexistent Reform Zionist movement, were expected to welcome the contributions of Mizrachi to the State and Israeli society in exchange for absolutley no tampering with any halachic definitions of Jewishness, public Sabbath observance and supporting of RZ and Torah institutions.

  2. mb says:

    and I don’t think the NIF would really like to advertise with us, anyway.

    They just did. Any publicity is good publicity.

  3. Avi Glazer says:

    Oh thanks. That’s what I needed. Kool & the Gang stuck in my head. During Sefira.

    Thank you Rabbi Menken.

    :)