Baghdad might not be able to get power to all its residents, but its PR machine has an hit upon an effective way to sooth some people's frustrations about their powerless, hot, summer misery: Katie Couric.
The New York Times' Tim Arango has an unusual report from Baghdad, about the Iraqi government's campaign to get people to be patient about the power situation. It slaps a photo of a smiling Couric on billboards advertising the daily news broadcast about what's going on with power. Baghdad's not the first to use an unwitting U.S. celebrity's image to sell something, but while unauthorized endorsements usually infuriate their subjects, Couric doesn't seem to mind. Remember Kim Kardashian's photo appearing on a Mexican plastic surgery billboard (she threatened to sue), or Woody Allen showing up in an American Apparel ad (he sued), or Angelina Jolie's "massage" hula hoop (just weird)? "I'm calling my lawyer," Couric told Arango, before adding "just kidding." She called the billboard campaign "bizarre and slightly amusing."
Arango's not the first to point out these billboards: AFP Baghdad bureau chief Prashant Rao blogged about a sighting just Monday (that's his photo above). But Arango's the first report we've seen that tried to figure out how people are actually receiving this odd campaign. Rather well, it turns out. Nobody actually thinks Couric is going to deliver their news, nor do they have much faith that the government will get their power working anytime soon. But for some reason her image is working for people all the same. "It doesn’t give me hope about electricity, but I like to see her beautiful face," one fruit vendor told him. "Whoever comes here says, ‘What a beautiful face,’ ” said another vendor who sells soap and cologne. "She’s smiling. She gives us hope."
Hey, whatever works. When it's 110 degrees outside and the A/C won't come on, you've got to give the people something.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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