A PR Solution for the Secret Service Scandal: Let’s Rebrand It the Not-so Secret Service
By Steven Cody, Managing Partner & Co-Founder, Peppercom
The current Secret Service crisis (the latest, as reported by The Los Angeles Times) is just the latest in a seemingly endless series of misdeeds and foul deeds perpetrated by people placed in positions of trust and responsibility. As everyone knows by now, no fewer than 11 Secret Service agents, including snipers and explosives experts, as well as 10 military personnel have been accused of frolicking with 21 prostitutes just a mere 48 hours in advance of President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Cartegna, Colombia. And, while the president’s physical security was apparently never in jeopardy, pundits have opined that the agents and soldiers may have placed themselves in comprising positions (pun intended) for future blackmailing by the Ligueros Club prostitutes.
As might be expected, all the right people at all the right levels in the U. S. government have expressed their outrage. Some have suggested the agents’ behavior wasn’t an isolated incident but, rather, a pattern that’s become ingrained in what appears to be a government-sponsored road version of Animal House.
The traditional public relations strategy would call for an official apology followed by a Blue Ribbon panel investigation followed by sweeping changes in policies and procedures. And, oh yeah, heads would roll. (In fact, three agents have already been fired.) But, suppose the new agents do exactly what their predecessors did? What then? I have a different strategy I’d like to recommend.
Instead of hanging their heads in shame, executing the condemned and attempting to start over, I think the Secret Service should instead be privatized and re-branded as the Not-so Secret Service? In addition to offering the usual protection service, the agents could create a brand new, Global Events Planning Division (GEPD) that could offer Cartegna-quality raucous, randy and revolting revelries from Rangoon to Rabat.
Just think about it. The Not-so Secret Service could arrange all the wine, women and song necessary for everything including:
- Trade delegation trips to far-flung lands (“Mr. Mayor, I don’t blame you for being bored. There’s really not much to see outside Abbottabad’s city limits. But, if you were interested…”)
- Congressional fact-finding missions to North Korea and Afghanistan (“Hey, Congressman Dingbottom, if you’re that into exploring nuclear plants, I can introduce you to someone who IS a nuclear reaction all by herself.”)
Private Sector Possibilities
But, why stop with the public sector? The beauty of the Not-so Secret Service is their years of party hardy experience. Why not offer such expertise to major private sector conferences such as Davos? “Have a CEO in need of a slightly more intimate level of networking at the upcoming world forum? Call the Not-so Secret Service. We’ll find a Davos Diva just right for your corner office king!” Could you imagine the parties Dennis Kozlowski could have held if the Not-so Secret Service had been in existence? The mind boggles.
And, why not launch a Not-so Secret Service line of men’s clothing a la Mad Men? Those dark suits and sunglasses would look uber cool at your next kegger. And, why not cast Not-so Secret Service agents as spokespeople for brands ranging from Patron and Marriott to Trojan and dos Equis? (“The world’s most interesting man is chillin’ with the world’s most randy men.”)
The best part of the brand extension would, of course, be the new revenue stream being produced. Just imagine how quickly those gloomy faces will brighten up when the State Department can report a multi-million dollar operating surplus thanks to the GEPD! And, how proud would Not-so Secret Service agents be if they could boast to friends and family alike: “We not only protect national security. We help lower the national debt.”
Steve Cody is a stand-up comedian, runner, cycler, climber and managing partner and co-founder of Peppercom, one of the nation’s largest independent public relations firms. He authors the RepMan blog, and is a member of The Arthur W. Page Society, the Civilian Public Affairs Committee of the US Military Academy at West Point, past chair pf the PRSA’s Counselors Academy and current chair of the College of Charleston’s Communications Advisory Council. Steve is also a member of the Northeastern University Corporation (his alma mater.)