Poli-tainment

I love going to the movies.  In fact, one of my favourite pastimes is sitting with a large carton of popcorn, and a ridiculously oversized soft drink, while watching a story unfold on a the big screen for two hours.

The last year has brought with it some great blockbusters, many of which were recognised at the recent 85th Academy Awards.  As well as the glitz, glamour and celebrity scandals, the number of nominated movies with political undertones was hard to miss.

Ben Affleck’s Argo, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables were all nominated in the Best Picture category, representing an appreciation of politically charged story lines by critics and audiences alike.

So blurred now are the lines between entertainment and politics, First Lady Michelle Obama was even on hand to present the Oscar to the winner, Argo.

The move drew widespread criticism with one Washington Post columnist saying: “There is a sense of going too far and too much and becoming so ubiquitous that people don’t consider you something special. She’s the first lady… not a Hollywood celebrity.”

However her star status can’t be ignored. Michelle Obama is a PR person’s dream.

Despite being one of the most powerful women the world – 7th according to Forbes magazine – her down to earth demeanour, strong character and warm personality reaches out to the masses.

Not since Jackie Kennedy has a First Lady been so popular.

Jodi Kantor, a New York Times writer and author of the book ‘The Obamas,’ told NBC News that each of Mrs Obama’s appearances is carefully-orchestrated and part of a vast PR approach.

“It’s almost as if her real strategy is a kind of charm offensive that is then intended to build support for her husband’s initiative,” she said.

So is this what we should expect in the future when it comes to British politics?  Samantha Cameron is often spotted sitting front row at London Fashion Week and was recently photographed in a red wig to raise money for Red Nose Day.

Despite the event being for a good cause,Telegraph journalist Jake Wallis Simons described the look as “foolish” and said: “There is significant power in Mrs Cameron’s position, and it could be much better deployed.  That Downing Street PR team has a lot to answer for.”

So while all PR is good PR, the same motto does not necessarily apply to politics. While Americans appreciate seeing the wife of their President on everything from daytime talk shows to Sesame Street, the UK public are far more conservative and may not feel the same seeing David Cameron’s other half on Loose Woman or Blue Peter.

The key?  Know your audience.