Reading the Tea Leaves of a Newspaper Special Supplement


As an aficionado of newspaper special supplements dedicated to Barack Obama, I eagerly consumed this morning's Washington Post 38-pager, "Dawn of a Presidency," with the by-now requisite Norman Rockwell-style portraiture on the cover, and hard-hitting stories such as "Restless Searcher On an Improbable Path" and "Defined by Her Times and Defining Them, Michelle Obama Is a First Among First Ladies."

But what really caught my eye was the ads. What kind of organization pays for a welcome-to-Washington-Mr.-President advertisement in the Establishment's house organ? What are they expecting to get out of the deal? Here's a breakdown of the full-page ads:

Name: Travelers Insurance
Cover line: "We believe that 'doing our part' includes more than just insurance."
Quotable: "Whether it be through the Four Pillars Coastal Plan to address insurance affordability and availability for coastal homeowners, our environmental initiatives to encourage green building and living by providing discounts and policies that support this way of life or our Education Access Initiative to aid underrepresented students from middle school through post-secondary education…"
Reason to worry: Federal government + "insurance affordability…for coastal homeowners" = more free houses for John Stossel!

Name: HP
Cover line: "Touch the Future Now."
Quotable: "A new day. A new president. A new way of interacting with your calendar, photos, music and more."
Reason to worry: None! One of the only straight-up consumer advertisements in the package.

Name: Verizon Wireless
Cover line: "Here's to the Future"
Quotable: "Today is a day for the history books. It's a day that makes us proud to be American and proud to work together in the days ahead."
Reason to worry: "[A] number of Verizon Wireless employees have, without authorization, accessed and viewed President-Elect Barack Obama's personal cell phone account."

Name: Peabody Energy
Cover line: "Clean Coal. Cool."
Quotable: "It's a stiumulus package that we can all agree on."
Reason to worry: "Coal companies have spent millions of dollars lobbying on the issue, and have marshaled allies in organized labor, the Air Force and fuel-burning industries like the airlines. Peabody Energy, the world's biggest coal company, urged in a recent advertising campaign that people 'imagine a world where our country runs on energy from Middle America instead of the Middle East.'….Richard A. Gephardt, a former Democratic House majority leader, has been hired by Peabody Energy to help make the case for liquefied coal….In the Senate, champions of coal-to-liquid fuels include Barack Obama."

Name: United Space Alliance (USA)
Cover line: "Congratulations, President Obama! Hope for the future"
Quotable: "Hope. It's that powerful longing to build a better future….The Space Shuttle and the International Space Station continue to be reliable and invaluable assets that, together, continue to create new possibilities to benefit every American."
Reason to worry: "We found that USA officials did not maintain evidence on the nature and scope of the furnished services; maintain adequate support for decisions to noncompetitively award the service subcontracts; and prepare written justifications for the noncompetitive awards prior to initiation of the work. As a result, the $468,673 USA charged to NASA for the services may include unallowable costs."

Name: Disneynature's Earth
Cover line: "The Greatest Stories on Earth"
Quotable: "This Earth Day, experience the very first Disneynature film."
Reason to worry: "Narrated by James Earl Jones."

Name: Shell
Cover line: "Protecting Our Environment. Discovering New Energy"
Quotable: "From building wind farms across the US to developing advanced biofuels made from switch grass and algae, Shell is using technology, ingenuity and exprience to help discover and deliver new solutions every day."
Reason to worry: Having an oil company brag about "protecting our environment" is like having Madonna brag about ______________________.

Name: Giant (a local supermarket)
Cover line: "Change is in the air. Congratulations President Obama!"
Quotable: "On this, the historic occasion of your inauguration as our nation's 44th President, we at Giant stand with all Americans in wishing you much success as you embark upon your Presidency."
Reason to worry: Over-deferential capitalization.

Name: Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow
Cover line: "Change from within. Creating the Next Generation of Muslim Leaders."
Quotable: "As the country meets the challenges of today and tomorrow, we're eager and ready to do our part."
Reason to worry: What, me worry?

Name: Northrop Grumman
Cover line:






No really, it looks like that, in grim, block-cap letters set against a foreboding overcast sky and a teeny-tiny White House at the bottom of the ad.
Quotable: "As the country meets the challenges of today and tomorrow, we're eager and ready to do our part."
Reason to worry: See previous.

Name: Chevron
Cover line: "I will finally get a programmable thermostat."
Quotable: "Join us in one of the most important efforts of our time—using less."
Reason to worry: Company + government + pretending to hate on company's product = federally rigged market share.

Send in lowlights from your local papers' special supplements in the comments!